International observers said in a statement today that Azerbaijan’s presidential elections lacked true pluralism and critical voices had been continually suppressed.
“Long-standing restrictions on freedom of association and expression have been reinforced by recent legal reforms, resulting in laws that are not in line with international democratic standards,” they said.
A joint observation mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliament (OSCE PA) said that although the electoral law is detailed and regulates all aspects of the electoral process, recent amendments have It concluded that ODIHR recommendations remain unaddressed. .
“While early presidential elections were held in a restrictive environment and efficiently prepared, critical voices and political alternatives were few and far between. Previous recommendations to bring the country closer to international standards have not been addressed, and many limitations in law and practice still exist,” said Artur Gerasimov, Special Coordinator and OSCE Short-Term Leader. Observers.
“The campaign remained subdued throughout, lacked meaningful public participation, and was not competitive. Six other candidates participated in the campaign, but they did so in a way that made their campaign more persuasive to the incumbent president’s policies. Not a single candidate has contested the elections, leaving voters with no real choice.Civil society and opposition representatives have argued that the legal framework and its enforcement ensure that the legal framework and its enforcement remain in place in the run-up to elections. Observers noted that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to hold public assemblies has become difficult to enjoy even outside of election periods. in a statement.
“As we watched this election, we realized that while the media environment remained extremely restricted, there was a significant lack of passionate and meaningful public campaigning among political options. were not meaningfully informed about their options on election day,” Daniela said. Mr. de Ridder, Head of the OSCE PA Delegation. “Women remain underrepresented in politics despite being a large part of the organizing work on election day. This points to the need to introduce legislation that guarantees equal participation in politics. Masu.”
“Highly restrictive media laws and recent arrests of critical journalists have impeded the free operation of the media, led to widespread self-censorship and limited the scope for independent journalism and critical debate. “Minimal coverage of candidates and campaigns reduced the opportunity for voters to learn about contestants and their programs in order to make informed choices on election day,” observers said.
“In this important election for the country, no candidate convincingly challenged the incumbent, and some opposition parties did not participate at all, arguing that sufficient democratic conditions were lacking.” said ODIHR Election Observer Organ Murphy. “Although preparations for the elections were carried out efficiently and professionally, including the training of precinct leaders, important security measures were often ignored on election day, and significant procedural errors were observed throughout the day. It was done.”
The international election observation mission for Azerbaijan’s early presidential elections included a total of 335 observers from 42 countries, including experts from ODIHR, 256 long-term and short-term observers, and 79 from the OSCE PA. there were.