Building a state ruled by the law is a long and complex process, with numerous obstacles to overcome. Among the problems of building the rule of law in Uzbekistan, there are important issues related to government institutions running on basis of parliamentarianism principles, for there is a strong belief that proved truth by early XXI century – a sound democracy in the country cannot be achieved without a plenipotentiary parliament. It is not by chance that people associate democracy with their real ability to participate in the state government and, via a parliament, to influence the law-making process.
The history of parliament spans back several ages. As the epochs came one after another, the role of parliament continuously changed, its basic concept enriched with new ideas, principles, experience of organizing and operating. Ideas of parliamentarianism, having emerged at the verge of the first millennia in Rome, England and Spain, and having been embodied in the form of public gathering, have undergone several stages of practical development in the coming ages before acquiring the forum of state status.
Thus, parliament as a public institute has developed over a long period of history. The major trend in development of parliamentarianism is that parliaments are in the focus of public life. Essentially, each country finds its own solutions to the issues of organizing and operating its parliament, though this doesn’t mean there are no common attributes that are considered in the parliamentary practice. This is why it is very important to study experience of establishment and development of parliamentary institutions, understand the roles and place of parliament in the past, track evolution of its concept and essence in the present, and identify the prospects of development in the future.
Establishment of the supreme law-making body of Uzbekistan has its specific features, stipulated by its historical past. National specific stipulates different forms and methods of state construction. Concrete form of state construction selected was a synthesis of the common and the national-historic, the specific. It is not by chance that knowing of any social phenomenon requires, first of all, understanding of its origins in the context of specific historical epoch, what are the major milestones in its development, how it changed in the process of development, what is the future development trend. These elements are essential for study of any social phenomena, including institutions as important as parliament. Even more so, the history shows that development of parliamentarianism is a complicated and sometimes arduous process. It reflects peculiarities of the historical moment, social and political situation in each country, national traditions, juridical culture and political will of the people. Naturally, development of social practice and the course of historical development cannot leave theoretical conceptions of state legislative institutions unchanged.
Legislative power is the most important element of state authority. Its development is correlated with historical evolution of the entire system of state authority. Therefore, comprehensive analysis of the problems of establishment and development of higher legislative bodies is of fundamental significance for the theory and practice of state construction and for future of parliamentarianism in Uzbekistan. Vision of the future may only be achieved with detailed and unbiased knowledge of the past. H.E. Islam Karimov, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, noted that “We must safeguard our nation, and for that we must learn, preserve and protect its true history”. Thus, historical approach is an integral element of politico-legal analysis, which is essential for adequate evaluation of political reality.
Unicameral parliament of 1991-2004 and transition to parliament of bicameral parliament system
Obtaining national independence by Uzbekistan on 1 September 1991 has started a new era in development of the national parliament as one of the most important institutes of state authority. Recent history of the national parliamentarianism is commonly understood to cover three periods, the first period: years 1991-1994, second: years 1995-2004 and the third: starting from 2005 up to day.
First period: 1991-1994.
The Supreme Soviet of the last convention, which may be referred to as transition parliament, adopted Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which has become legal basis for establishment of the new type of state government bodies, building a fair, democratic society with socially oriented market economy. Parliament has adopted a number of laws aimed at strengthening the young state: “On the foundations of the national independence of Uzbekistan”; “On elections of the President of Uzbekistan”, “On the National Emblem of Uzbekistan”, “On the National Anthem of Uzbekistan”, “On the official language of Uzbekistan”, “On election of Deputies of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan”, and other legislative acts.
On 23 September 1994, the sixteenth Session of the Supreme Soviet has adopted a Resolution to organize the first election of Deputies of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan on 25 December, 1994.
Based on the outcomes of the three-round election (held on 25 December 1994, 8 and 22 January 1995) a parliament of 245 elected Deputies has been established. The motto of the event was “multi-party election”.
Second period: 1995-2004
The second period began in 1995 and was nine-year long. The Supreme Soviet was replaced by a unicameral parliament of the Republic of Uzbekistan – Oliy Majlis.
Oliy Majlis of the first convention (1995-1999) was composed of 69 Deputies from the National Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, 47 from the Social Democratic Party “Adolat”, 14 from “Vatan tarakkiyoti” Party and 7 from “Milliy tiklanish” Party, while the remaining Deputies were nominated from the bodies of representative power.
Election of the Deputies of Oliy Majlis of second convention (2000-2004) was participated, beside the bodies of representative power, by five political parties and initiative groups of votes. Oliy Majlis of second convention registered faction of the Social-Democratic Party “Adolat”, uniting 11 Deputies, faction of Democratic Party “Milliy tiklanish” – 10 Deputies, “Vatan tarakkiyoti” Party faction – 20 Deputies, faction of National-Democratic Party “Fidokorlar” – 34 Deputies, faction of the National-Democratic Party of Uzbekistan – 49 Deputies, block of Deputies nominated by representative power bodies – 107 Deputies, and block of Deputies nominated by initiative groups of voters – 16 Deputies. As “Vatan tarakkiyoti” Party merged into “Fidokorlar”, Deputies of their respective factions in the parliament formed a single 54- Deputy faction during the second session of Oliy Majlis of second convention.
Along with factions of political parties and Deputy blocks, there were 13 Committees working within Oliy Majlis of second convention:
There were also three permanent commissions working in the parliament:
In the conditions of non-existing legal base in the new state, unicameral parliament was able to quickly adopt the necessary legislation to stimulate faster development of the country, thus demonstrating its dynamism. Lawmaking has become the primary area of activity for the Deputies. From 1995-2004, Oliy Majlis adopted 240 laws, 778 Resolutions, introduced 1573 amendments and additions to the existing legislative acts, and ratified more than 130 international treaties and agreements. At this stage, supreme legislative body of the country aimed at developing and adopting the laws that would strengthen the national sovereignty, civil peace and social stability, intensifying democratic and socio-economic reforms in the society. As the result, the parliament has significantly broadened and strengthened the legal base for the country’s independent development on the pathways of democracy and progress. For example, the laws “On political Parties”, “On Non-Governmental Organizations”, “On Oliy Majlis Representative on Human Rights (Ombudsman)”, “On Civil Self-Government Institutes” and other legal acts approved by Oliy Majlis of first convention, provided further development to the norms initiated in the Constitution of Uzbekistan. During operation of the unicameral parliament, an important role was played by parliamentary control, within the framework of which, Committees and Commissions of Oliy Majlis reviewed annually some 60 issues in order to control execution of legislative acts, conventions and national programs.
Election of Deputies of Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis and transition to bicameral parliament (December 2004 – January 2005)
As an outcome of constitutional reform stipulated by transition to bicameral parliament and on the basis of changes made in the Constitution of Uzbekistan, as well as adoption of the basic constitutional laws, two-round elections of Deputies of Legislative Chamber were organized. To hold the election, the Central Election Commission of Uzbekistan has formed 120 election districts divided into electoral precincts in accordance with the law “On election of Deputies of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan”. The first round was held on 26 December 2004, resulting in election of 62 Deputies, and during the second round held on 9 January 2005, the remaining 58 Deputies of the Legislative Chamber were elected, thus filling all positions in the Chamber. Among the candidates participating in the election were both nominated by the political parties of Uzbekistan and by initiative groups of votes. Following political parties participated in the election: the Liberal-Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, the Peoples’-Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, the National-Democratic Party “Fidokorlar” (in June 2000, “Fidokorlar” merged with “Vatan Tarakkiyoti”), Social-Democratic Party “Adolat”, as well as the Democratic Party of Uzbekistan “Milliy Tiklanish”. Based on the result of election, the seats in the parliament were distributed between the Deputies nominated by the above parties and initiative groups as shown in the below diagram.
Third period of development of the national parliamentarianism began with the joint session of the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of Oliy Majlis on 28 January 2005, when the Deputies and senators of the new bicameral Oliy Majlis actually started their work. In this historical forum of lawmakers, H.E. Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan, made a keynote address, which introduced the concept of democratization and renewal of society and highlighted the main objectives of reformation and modernization of the country in 2005 and in a long-term prospect.
Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan adopted lawmaking activities Program for 2005-2009 developed on the basis of priority areas and targets of reformation and modernization of the country proposed by the President.
Transition to bicameral parliament has elevated the legislative power in the Republic of Uzbekistan to a new level of development. The quality of the laws adopted significantly improved despite the law making process became considerably more complicated. Political parties started playing a bigger role in adoption of legislative acts. Pre-reviewing draft legislation by the party factions and hearing factions’ opinion during discussion of drafts of legislative acts became regularly practiced during the Plenary Sessions of the Legislative Chamber.