‘Difficult’ cases – Uzbekistan

Is Uzbekistan semi-presidential? The answer seems obvious. No. However, a closer look suggests that the situation has changed over time and that Uzbekistan may be (or have been) semi-presidential.

The first constitution was adopted in 1992. It is widely available online in English. There are two key clauses:

Art. 78 (16) [The exclusive powers of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall include:] ratification of the decrees of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the appointment and removal of the Prime Minister, the First Deputy Prime Ministers, the Deputy Prime Ministers and the members of the Cabinet of Ministers;
Art. 98, which in this version mentions nothing about collective cabinet responsibility or even individual prime ministerial responsibility.

In 2003 the constitution was amended. The 2003 version is also available online in English. Here, the wording of the relevant clauses changes:

Art. 78 (15) [Joint authority of the Legislative chamber and the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall include:] consideration and approval of a candidature of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan upon the nomination of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan;
Art. 98 The Cabinet of Ministers, in its activity shall be responsible to the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

So, while the legislature has the power (in theory!) to reject the appointment of the prime minister, it cannot reject the appointment of the cabinet as a whole. However, Art. 98 indicates that there is collective cabinet responsibility. Therefore, it seems as if Uzbekistan should be considered semi-presidential on the basis of the definition used in this blog. That said, there are no provisions in the constitution as to how the legislature will hold the government accountable. Therefore, I am reluctant to include it in my list of semi-presidential countries.

Interestingly, there now seems to be a further amendment. RFE/RL reports that the role of the president is being reduced, the procedures for appointing the prime minister are changing and that explicit reference to a vote of no-confidence is going to be included. Now, at this time, there is some confusion. In a separate report on the amendments, the wording of the no-confidence motion is actually provided. It is supposed to be worded as follows:

“The vote of non-confidence in the PM shall be deemed adopted if it receives a vote of at least two-thirds of the lower chamber and the upper house of the Uzbek parliament, respectively. In this case the president decides on the release of the PM from office. The entire composition of the Cabinet of Ministers resigns together with the PM”.

On the basis of this blog, this would not make Uzbekistan semi-presidential because the president still has the final say over the dismissal of the government.

Given the final text does not yet seem to be available, I will reserve judgement. However, clearly Uzbekistan is almost semi-presidential at least constitutionally.

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