Turkmenistan: Grasping for Legitimacy

Issue Date July 2017
Volume 28
Issue 3
Page Numbers 168-172
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Read the full essay here.

On 12 February 2017 Turkmenistan held its presidential elections. The incumbent, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov, won with an overwhelming margin in a manifestly unfree and unfair contest against a number of puppet candidates. This article argues that Berdimuhammedov’s continued interest in propping up a “democratic” façade shows that he remains deeply insecure about his own legitimacy as the country’s ruler. In addition, the recent election and earlier legal changes allowing a supposed “multiparty” system suggest that Turkmenistan is seeking to elevate itself in the eyes of the international community, from what Freedom House has called “the worst of the worst” to the level of a “normal” authoritarian regime.

About the Author

Sergey Radchenko is professor of international relations at Cardiff University (U.K.). He is the author of Unwanted Visionaries: The Soviet Failure in Asia at the End of the Cold War (2014).

View all work by Sergey Radchenko