When declaring independence in late 1991, Turkmenistan embarked upon a course of 'national revival', which has a substantial impact on virtually all areas of public life. In politics, this 'back to the roots' trend manifests itself in a truly remarkable way. Within the fifteen years of post-Soviet existence, Turkmenistan under President Saparmurat Turkmenbashi's one-man rule has witnessed the rise of a unique institutional design. An important role in the system is held by institutions deriving their existence from the age-old tradition. Utilising the example of the nationwide councils (held along with the annual sessions of Halk Maslahaty, the country's supreme governmental body), this paper focuses on the question how the traditional collective decision-making process of tribal councils has influenced the institutions of modern Turkmenistan. The author argues that although used instrumentally to serve the present elites' ends, tradition is a distinctive feature of Turkmenistan's 'specific path of development'.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.