The current president of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, again won the early presidential elections with 87.05% of the vote, thanks to earlier amendments to the country's Constitution, he will be able to remain in power for another 14 years. Mirziyoyev allegedly came to replace the first president of Uzbekistan, “Soviet dictator” Islam Karimov, started with reforms, but eventually “zeroed out” just like his predecessor, a researcher at the Carnegie Berlin Center for Russian Studies told The Insider and Eurasia Temur Umarov.
“Mirziyoyev’s policy was different in that he replaced the Soviet dictator Islam Karimov, and in this regard, society had a rather low bar of expectations from him. The expectations from his presidency were catastrophic, because he had a rather harsh image in society and it seemed to many that things would go even worse in matters of human rights and repression. But he played in the opposite direction and quite seriously reformed Uzbekistan, especially with regard to economic development. In the first presidential term, large-scale changes took place that changed the attitude of society towards him and Uzbekistan as a whole.
Now the prospects are not the same as in his first terms. He has already reached the ceiling of reforms that may have some consequences and that will not change the political system. There were no reforms left in his arsenal, and therefore the transformations that were under him earlier, most likely, will have to be forgotten.
If we talk about the general characteristics, Mirziyoyev is a person who has long faithfully served the previous president as prime minister. This is a man from the system, so in this regard there are no big differences from Islam Karimov, but at the same time, having come to power, he realized that it is more profitable to be a modern autocracy with open borders than a closed terrible dictatorship with which no one wants to communicate.”
Umarov recalled the experience of the ex-president of Uzbekistan, Mirziyoyev's predecessor, who also once "nullified" his term.
“Mirziyoyev zeroed out not like Putin, but like his (Mirziyoyev) predecessor Islam Karimov at the beginning of the 2000s. Karimov was one of the first presidents to rewrite the Constitution and reset his terms to zero. Here the regime continues to be itself, it is still a big question: who learns from whom and what? So I would draw parallels not with Russia, but with the past of Uzbekistan.
As for the support of society, in any authoritarian regime this is a difficult issue. If you take a survey, you will never know the percentage of support. You cannot compare the percentage of support for Joe Biden in the United States and Mirziyoyev in Uzbekistan. Answering the question: “Do you support the incumbent president?” society in Uzbekistan and other authoritarian countries thinks first of all about the consequences of its sincere response if it does not coincide with the party line. In such a situation, society simply cannot be sincere to people who ask such a question. If you conduct an independent opinion poll, then more than 80% will say that they “support the president,” but this absolutely does not mean that they are.”
According to the official results of the referendum, on April 30, 2023, more than 90% of the people of Uzbekistan supported the adoption of amendments allowing Shavkat Mirziyoyev to remain in power until almost 2040. The adopted amendments increased the presidential term from 5 to 7 years, the number of terms is still limited to two. However, due to changes in the Constitution, Mirziyoyev's previous terms are not taken into account. Mirziyoyev himself argued that holding early elections was necessary to better meet the "new political, social and economic challenges."