Azerbaijan prepares for the early parliamentary elections of February 9th, 2020
Baku, Azerbaijan – The elegant and cosmopolitan city of Baku is receiving thousands of local and international observers to cooperate in the upcoming early parliamentary elections of February 9th, 2020.
The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIH) has dispatched an election observation mission to Azerbaijan. The mission, which is led by Ambassador Peter Tejler, is composed of a 12-members team based in Baku and 26 long-term observers, who have been deployed across Azerbaijan since
January 14th. Moreover, 350 short-term observers are set to oversee the proceedings during election day, including voting, counting, and the elaboration of results.
Besides the OSCE observation mission, 17,733 persons across the country have been accredited as individual observers and further 1,724 have been nominated by non-governmental organization – all this in addition to the 32,106 representatives of the candidates coming from 19 different political parties.
There are a number of international delegations currently in Azerbaijan, featuring the presence of politicians, academics, mostly from the fields of political sciences and international law, diplomats, government officials, and journalists. Their aim is to oversee the parliamentarian elections, which were called ahead of time in order to bridge the gap between the legislative power and the pace of economic, judicial, and social reforms set forth by President Ilham Aliyev. On December 5th, 2019, after the Parliament’s appeal to dissolve it and with the Constitutional Court’s consent, President Aliyev dissolved the chamber and announced early parliamentarian elections to be held on February 9th, 2020.
Some 5.2 million people are registered in the Central Election Commission’s voters list, which is available online for the public to verify their own data and request corrections if needed.
The official election campaign period started on January 17th. It had featured the participation of 272 candidates, coming from 19 political parties. Eighty members of the out-going parliament (64% of the total number) will seek re-election.
In the now-dissolved Parliament, 65 seats were allocated to the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, with the opposition holding 12 seats and further 38 members elected as independent candidates. The upcoming parliamentarian election will be an opportunity for new people to enter in the political arena – including women, who were previously underrepresented. During the previous legislature, women held only 20 seats (16% of the total), 2 positions as state committee’s chairperson (out of 15 such posts), and no ministerial position. In the upcoming election, women now represent 21% of the registered candidates.
The new elections will also be a new opportunity for young people, as 18 years-old youth will be able to vote or to set themselves forth as candidates. “If we pay attention to the age of the candidates, it is possible to say that the interest of young people in this process is growing,” Rasim Guliyev, political expert and head of the Azerbaijani Resource Analytical Information Center, said. “This time, 82 candidates aged 18 to 28, including eight 22 years-old candidates, registered, together with 407 candidates aged 29-39 and 542 candidates aged 40-45, and 251 candidates aged 56-66 and 43 candidates older than 67.”
Mr. Guliyev also analyzed the dynamics of voters’ turnout during the last Azeri elections. “The voter turnout was 42 percent during the parliamentary elections in 2005 and 46 percent in 2010. While the voter turnout during the recent parliamentary elections in 2015 was 55 percent, during the presidential election it was 85 percent. So, the interest in municipal [GL1] elections is not high enough.” – he explained.
In Azerbaijan, members of parliament are elected by simple majority for a five-year term, and elections are regulated by the Constitution and Election Code. Elections proceedings are administrated by the Central Election Commission. The legislation on campaign financing does not foresee direct public funding of the campaign, it sets limits for donations and expenditures, and it obliges candidates to report on their campaign financing. Parties and candidates can use their own finances, and donations can come by individual or legal entities. Anonymous and in-kind donations are prohibited.
Picture Heydar Aliyev Centre, Baku.