There’s no partisanship in Turkmenistan!

The hard-working staff here at danieldrezner.com has demanded that your humble blogger be declared the Turkmenbashi of the Blogosphere by universal assent. I hereby accept that mandate for the day — which makes it about as legitimate as the last guy to accept this title. In honor of the old Turkmenbashi, I hereby decree to ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

The hard-working staff here at danieldrezner.com has demanded that your humble blogger be declared the Turkmenbashi of the Blogosphere by universal assent. I hereby accept that mandate for the day -- which makes it about as legitimate as the last guy to accept this title. In honor of the old Turkmenbashi, I hereby decree to spend the day posting about the remaining totalitarian dictatorships in the world. OK, so let's see....Zimbabwe? Yep, got that one. Hey, let's check up on Turkmenistan itself! Of course, they're hold a presidential election, so they might fall from totalitarian status. However, if this report from Peter Finn of the Washington Post Foreign Service is any indication, it's a presidential election that warms the cockles of the Turkmenbashi's heart: Six presidential candidates are barnstorming the country and holding public meetings to talk about improving education, reforming health care, ensuring adequate pensions and boosting agriculture. It could be Iowa -- if it weren't Turkmenistan. Acting President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, 49, will almost certainly win when the Central Asian country's citizens go to the polls Feb. 11. His opponents, a deputy minister and four regional officials, are willing foils, according to analysts and exiled politicians. Murad Karyev, the supposedly neutral chairman of the Central Election Commission, has already said Berdymukhammedov is the best man for the job.... The exiled opposition has been prevented from returning to take part in the election. A coalition of exile organizations chose Khudaiberdy Orazov, a former vice premier and head of the Central Bank, to run as their candidate, but he is sitting out the campaign abroad. "They are trying to create an image of real elections, but of course these are not elections. It's some sort of clownery," said Orazov, who lives in Sweden. "I believe we are entering the second stage of dictatorship." Agents from Turkmenistan's internal security service, the MNB, are shadowing five of the candidates to ensure they don't stray from their scripts and say things contrary to policies laid out by the leading candidate, according to the Eurasian Transition Group, a nongovernmental organization in Germany that is one of the few with a presence in Turkmenistan. "The other five candidates have to attend security council meetings, where they receive their orders," said Michael Laubsch, executive director of the German group. "Everything is concentrated on Berdymukhammedov, and the MNB have total control over the other candidates." The Turkmenbashi of the blogosphere applauds the measures taken to eliminate the petty squabbles that come with partisanship and political competition.

The hard-working staff here at danieldrezner.com has demanded that your humble blogger be declared the Turkmenbashi of the Blogosphere by universal assent. I hereby accept that mandate for the day — which makes it about as legitimate as the last guy to accept this title. In honor of the old Turkmenbashi, I hereby decree to spend the day posting about the remaining totalitarian dictatorships in the world. OK, so let’s see….Zimbabwe? Yep, got that one. Hey, let’s check up on Turkmenistan itself! Of course, they’re hold a presidential election, so they might fall from totalitarian status. However, if this report from Peter Finn of the Washington Post Foreign Service is any indication, it’s a presidential election that warms the cockles of the Turkmenbashi’s heart:

Six presidential candidates are barnstorming the country and holding public meetings to talk about improving education, reforming health care, ensuring adequate pensions and boosting agriculture. It could be Iowa — if it weren’t Turkmenistan. Acting President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, 49, will almost certainly win when the Central Asian country’s citizens go to the polls Feb. 11. His opponents, a deputy minister and four regional officials, are willing foils, according to analysts and exiled politicians. Murad Karyev, the supposedly neutral chairman of the Central Election Commission, has already said Berdymukhammedov is the best man for the job…. The exiled opposition has been prevented from returning to take part in the election. A coalition of exile organizations chose Khudaiberdy Orazov, a former vice premier and head of the Central Bank, to run as their candidate, but he is sitting out the campaign abroad. “They are trying to create an image of real elections, but of course these are not elections. It’s some sort of clownery,” said Orazov, who lives in Sweden. “I believe we are entering the second stage of dictatorship.” Agents from Turkmenistan’s internal security service, the MNB, are shadowing five of the candidates to ensure they don’t stray from their scripts and say things contrary to policies laid out by the leading candidate, according to the Eurasian Transition Group, a nongovernmental organization in Germany that is one of the few with a presence in Turkmenistan. “The other five candidates have to attend security council meetings, where they receive their orders,” said Michael Laubsch, executive director of the German group. “Everything is concentrated on Berdymukhammedov, and the MNB have total control over the other candidates.”

The Turkmenbashi of the blogosphere applauds the measures taken to eliminate the petty squabbles that come with partisanship and political competition.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

Tag: Theory

More from Foreign Policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.

Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?

The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.

Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.
Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.

Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World

It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

It’s a New Great Game. Again.

Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.

Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.
Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing

The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.