Increasing urbanization triggered by population growth creates additional challenges in city planning, prompting governments and municipalities to search for innovative approaches. Smart city initiatives have proven efficient solutions for emerging urban challenges in many developed countries. Smart cities aim to improve living conditions, make more efficient use of physical infrastructure, and promote environmental sustainability. Cities in Central Asia face many urban challenges, including deteriorating and aging infrastructure, traffic congestion, inadequate waste management systems, and pollution. Sustainable urban management strategies are needed to address these challenges as well as to improve citizens’ quality of life and welfare in the longer term. This article assesses the potential for introduction of smart city projects in six major cities of Central Asia (Almaty, Astana, Ashgabat, Bishkek, Dushanbe, and Tashkent), and suggests an integrative framework for subsequent analysis of smart city development in this region.
Drawing on two waves of public opinion surveys conducted in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, we investigate the rise in religiosity and orthodoxy among Central Asian Muslims. We confirm that a religious revival is underway, with nearly 100 percent of Kazakhstani and Kyrgyzstani Muslims self-identifying as such in 2012—up from 80 percent in Kazakhstan in 2007. If we dig a bit deeper, however, we observe cross-national variations. Religious practice, as measured by daily prayer and weekly mosque attendance, is up in Kyrgyzstan, but has fallen in Kazakhstan. While the share of those who express preferences associated with religious orthodoxy has grown in both, this group has more than doubled in Kazakhstan. We attribute these differences to political context, both in terms of cross-national political variation and, within each country, variation based on regional differences.
The parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan in October 2015 garnered widespread approval from commentators for the level of fairness and freedom maintained throughout the campaign. However, the results of the vote do not provide a clear indication of the current state of affairs of parliamentarism in the republic. Focusing on the commercialization of party lists, we argue that neither identity politics nor the logic of neopatrimonialism adequately explain the dynamics of political competition in Kyrgyzstan. Instead, we see perpetual uncertainty emerging from contradicting yet increasing attempts to harness the capital of privatized party lists and to impose discipline. Eventually, and beyond short-term threats of an emerging super-presidentialism, Kyrgyzstan risks suffering from hollow parliamentarism, with political parties persistently failing to supply legislative initiatives with substantial agendas and adequate professionals. The weakly institutionalized political parties and their short-sighted electoral strategies undermine both the parliamentary system and its political pluralism.