No Spring in Sight

Elections in Azerbaijan

11 February 2020

The preliminary results of the snap parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan were a painful reality check for parts of the country’s democratic opposition. Despite the reform rhetoric, Ilham Aliyev’s government seems set to continue the authoritarian course.

“The 9 February elections have been nothing but a major disappointment. If the early results confirm, it will be a big disaster for our country,” said Natig Jafarli, Executive Secretary of the opposition Republic Alternative party (REAL) and one of the contestants in the elections.

The unofficial numbers point to a major victory of the ruling New Azerbaijan party that is believed to have secured some 71 mandates in the 125-seat parliament. The rest will go to so-called independent candidates who in practice hold pro-government stance. From the genuine opposition forces, only Erkin Gadirli, a lawyer from REAL, might make it to the legislative body.

The voting process was far from Western standards. Observers noted a number of serious violations across the country, including carousel voting (multiple voting by the same person), intimidation of independent observers, and ballot stuffing. Following the closing of polling stations, social media were flooded with a video recording showing how commission members awkwardly pull out piles of illegal ballots and add them to the mix of counted votes.

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Anna Zamejc

Polish freelance journalist and Azerbaijan analyst

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