What Really Happened in Kyrgyzstan?

Issue Date April 2006
Volume 17
Issue 2
Page Numbers 132-146
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This article is an analysis of the causes of Kyrgyzstan’s “Tulip Revolution” of March 2005, and its implications for post-revolutionary politics. The mass mobilization was the result of community support for local elites after disputed parliamentary elections. The government was overthrown when an improvised alliance of opposition leaders and business elites unified uncoordinated protests around the country. Unlike Georgia and Ukraine’s revolutions, civil society networks, students, and urban residents played a minimal role. Localism and informal ties were decisive, and have persisted in shaping politics since the revolution. The advent of “hyper-democracy” has endangered the government’s efforts to ensure stability, reduce corruption, and grow the economy.