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Transmission

Six Things You Need To Know About Azerbaijan's Elections

Posters for the November 7 parliamentary elections in Baku
Posters for the November 7 parliamentary elections in Baku
On November 7, Azerbaijan will hold its fourth parliamentary elections since independence in 1991.

• Unlike in previous elections, this year's parliamentary elections do not offer even a theoretical chance for contesting the majority votes in the national elections. Already during the period for registering parliamentary candidates, two-thirds of the candidates of the main opposition Popular Front-Musavat bloc were denied a place on the ballot. As a result, the opposition will be contesting 39-40 out of 125 seats in parliament.

• The campaign period itself is considerably shortened from previous elections to 23 days. Moreover, the Central Election Commission and the Azerbaijani government have interpreted the legal term "campaign period" very narrowly, basically banning freedom of assembly, the right to promote a political agenda, and engage in political advocacy outside these days. For example, the Popular Front-Musavat bloc was banned from holding a rally in Baku before October 15 because the Election Commission said the 23-day campaign period had not yet started.

• For the first time since 1993, the Azerbaijani government has prohibited political rallies during the election period. Political rallies have been replaced by town-hall meetings -- a much smaller-scale activity. The effect of this change is that -- unlike the elections of 1995, 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2005 -- this year there will be no opposition rally with thousands of people taking part. The visual message for Azerbaijani society is that the opposition -- and not only that, but also the democratic process -- has shrunk and cannot mobilize large-scale support.

• The government-controlled TV channel aired an openly pornographic video, filmed by secret camera, of an opposition editor having sex with a woman in his apartment. This "gloves-off" approach against opponents of the government sends a signal to the public that the assault on the opposition will now be ruthless. It's worth noting that the video has also been used to equate the opposition's values with Western values, which are understood in the official media to be decadent and detrimental to Azeri norms. The extension of this attitude to Western democracy is implicit.

• For the first time, the Azerbaijani opposition bloc openly refused to meet with the election assessment mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) calling the Council of Europe on its failure to criticize Azerbaijan for failing to meet its international obligations. This is another shattered link in a chain connecting the democratic forces in Azerbaijan and the major democratic institutions of the West, and additional evidence of the eroding respect for democratic values -- and the international institutions that supposedly safeguard them -- in Azerbaijan.

• Unlike the elections of 2000 and 2005 when there was hope in the authority of the Council of Europe, and unlike the elections of 2005, which were imbued with the spirit of the color revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, the elections of 2010 are held in an atmosphere of total depression and lack of hope for any meaningful, positive development in the country.

-- Gorkhmaz Askarov of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kazim Jabarov from: Baku
November 04, 2010 16:54
Now one can really understand why the Aliyev regime is geting along so well with the US. The US has a proud record of supporting despots in the Muslim world from Mubarak to Aliyev. And the US state aparatus wonders why most people on the planet hate them.


by: Claus from: Germany
November 04, 2010 21:11
I suppose this is what Mr Elnur Baimov would consider "the spirit of Azerbaijan's Western stance" or "commitment to its partnership with the West". Thankfully, this article furthers "a little genuine understanding and appreciation of who we are and what we stand for".

by: Zoltan from: Hungary
November 04, 2010 22:23
This just proves the long known fact that Azerbaijan under the Aliyev regime is not a democratic nor free country.

In its current state it has nothing in common with the West.

Azerbaijan is more and more like Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan. A paranoid dictatorship.

I feel sorry for ordinary Azeris living under such conditions...

by: dyan from: California
November 06, 2010 00:18
I don't get it. It says "6 things..." and then there are just those bullet points. And things. Where are the "6 things"? If it said "bulleted things" and then had bullet points and things, I would understand. But it says "6 things." And how am I supposed to know which thing is "1" and which is "6"? Or "2"? Or "5"? You see what I mean?
In Response

by: to dyan from: bucahrest
November 06, 2010 13:28
dyan, my dearest, you don't need to be stupid.

by: Anonymous
November 09, 2010 02:54
yet another muslim democracy at work. sultan aliev, head of the laterday medieval tatar khante, keep multiply its military budget with petrodollar and constantly threatening Armenia with war, destabilizing Iran through jewish influence, turkish barbarity and western double dealing.

Isn't "democracy" great?

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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