Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan: Opinion of international missions - ANALYSIS
- 11 February 2020
Based on the order signed by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on December 5 last year, the Azerbaijani Parliament of the fifth convocation was dissolved, and the snap elections to the parliament were scheduled for February 9, 2020. The update of the composition of the Azerbaijani Parliament at the level of the professional team became a necessity. These elections were important in terms of improvement of mutual agility in the activity of all three branches (executive, legislative and judicial) of government. It was expected that the legislative power with the new deputy corps will improve its performance efficiency coefficient in order to implement the tasks assigned by the government.
The international organizations and the leading media were also tracking attentively the February 9 elections from this viewpoint. Thus, the snap parliamentary elections were held on February 9. The international institutions have already provided their initial opinions regarding the results of the elections. It was indicated in the opinions that the organization of the voting process, the registration of candidates, the organization of the activity of the Central Election Commission and the propaganda and promotion process were mainly implemented well. In the initial opinion of several international organizations, it was stressed that the law violations that occurred in the process of counting of the votes in some high-profile constituencies were the disappointing cases, and it was important to investigate these cases. In its turn, the Azerbaijani CEC noted that investigation was launched into election results in 7 constituencies, and over 300 video materials.
The leaders of a number of countries have already phoned Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and congratulated the country’s leader on occasion of the formation of the new legislative body.
On February 10, when receiving the delegation led by Shamil Ayrim, head of Turkey-Azerbaijan inter-parliamentary friendship group, President Ilham Aliyev stated that the implementation of these elections is based on the will of Azerbaijani people: “If the Azerbaijani people didn’t approve the implementation of these elections, they would raise their voice in protest to it. You also witnessed today that a completely democratic environment is present in Azerbaijan. The election and the implementation of elections are among the manifestations of democracy. If the candidates were so proactive and energetic during this election campaign – and this is indeed the case, and you also noted this – if they walked from door to door in order to deliver their messages to voters, then of course, if they were dissatisfied with the election results, they would raise their voice of protest. But so far we haven’t encountered such cases. This once again testifies to the fact that these elections reflect the will of the Azerbaijani people, and this is the most important of all”.
Note that the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) consisting of representatives of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of OSCE, the Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) already disclosed their initial conclusions regarding the snap elections to the Azerbaijani Parliament on February 10 and despite some critical remarks, a number of positive points were also reflected in the report.
Artur Gerasimov, head of OSCE’s short-term observation mission stressed that the issue of legitimacy is determined only by the Azerbaijani people.
Gerasimov stated that he hasn’t encountered any rule violation in the course of the voting. And Peter Tejler, head of ODIHR’s observation mission noted that the authority to recognize the legitimacy of the new parliament lies beyond their mandate. It is worth stressing that the international mission along with critical remarks also noted a number of positive moments. The international observers stated that no serious violations were recorded in the process of registration of candidates, the representatives of 19 political parties participated in the elections to the Azerbaijani Parliament, 77790 local and 883 international observers passed official registration. It is worth emphasizing that 1,314 candidates conducted struggle for 125 parliamentary seats. The international observers also noted that this number of candidates is twice as much as the number of candidates in the previous parliamentary elections held in 2015. Some 246 candidates from 19 political parties, 11 candidates from initiative groups and 1,057 non-party candidates participated in the elections. The voter turnout was 47.81%, 2 million 547 thousand 982 people participated in the voting.
The provision of the polling stations with resources, the immediate reaction of the CEC to the observed violations, the existence of goodwill attitude in regard to international observers are stressed in all opinions. The international mission especially drew attention to openness to observers and media of the meetings held in regard to the elections. The international observers assessing as measures providing transparency the typically unanimous adoption of decisions and the publication of the data on the website in the time interval stipulated in the law, also stressed that over one thousand cameras were installed at the polling stations for the purpose of transparency.
Besides all of these factors, another fact has attracted attention. The press conference has been held in civil form and without any aggression and it is a good case after the experienced unfavorable cases in the previous elections.
Criticism of the OSCE ODIHR in its current evaluation, as we mentioned, are related to violations in calculations of the votes in some polling stations and Constituencies. The CEC has also highlighted that investigations have been conducted in these Constituencies.
Let us pay attention to a point. Even PACE’s representative Frank Schwabe approached skeptically to some opposition members’ arising an issue of not-authorizing Azerbaijani Delegation in the Council of Europe. He stressed it is impossible after occurrences with Russian Delegation in the PACE.
It should be taken into consideration that ODIHR’s criticism in relation to elections has not been reflected in its attitude to Azerbaijan. In general, the mission’s purpose is to exaggeratedly say mistakes in order to improve election process much more in OSCE states. The mission is more severely criticizes the elections, held in Western European countries, where democratic institutions have developed and reveal the existence of more serious problems.
Thus, the new composition of Milli Majlis is almost clear. Results of some Constitutions may be reviewed again, but it will not affect the general result of the election. In a word, we can already declare the formation of a new parliament.
According to expectations, the new parliament will be able to become a part of the renewed and adequate public administration system, and as a part of this policy will serve for strengthening legislative power.
Serious steps in the field of economy in the background of changes implemented regarding the Presidential Administration, Cabinet of Ministers, heads of executive powers had also been taken. Consolidation of the Ministry of Taxes and State Committee for Property Issues and other economic bodies, as well as reforms of the social bloc - increasing salaries, pensions, benefits were observed. But the reforms had to continue, and from this point of view, there had been a necessity for renewal of the parliament. The new parliament includes about 40 new persons. The most interesting issue is that ordinary citizens also understand the importance of the new elections and especially citizen acts as the main provider of stability in the country in this sensitive moment. The people believe that the reforms will continue...