Parliamentary Elections Marred by Political Imprisonment, Violations of Freedoms to Assembly, Association, and Expression
EPDE carried out long-term observation of the November 1, 2015, Parliamentary Elections in Azerbaijan with support of more than 50 local long-term observers (LTOs) and local civil society activists in more than 80 election constituencies around the country.
EPDE notes with regret that the November 1, 2015, Parliamentary Elections were carried out amidst numerous incidents of political imprisonment and gross violations of freedoms to assembly, association, and expression. The nomination and registration stages of the elections were compromised by the exertion of pressure on candidates and their representatives during the signature collection process, along with the intimidation of voters, who were forced to withdraw their support signatures. Election campaigning was marred by restrictions on campaigning opportunities and the absence of TV debates and free air time, as well as by the abuse of administrative resources in favor of the ruling party and the candidates it supported. The main opposition parties refused to participate in the race due to the prevailing undemocratic conditions, thereby rendering the vote uncompetitive and the outcome a foregone conclusion.
The National Council, established by the main opposition parties, NGOs, and activists, decided to boycott the elections due to the undemocratic situation in the country. The ruling YAP party joined the race with 115 candidates, while the majority of the 769 competing candidates were self-nominated. The “Musavat” party and movement “Nida” announced their withdrawal from the race 4 days prior to Election Day, and the REAL movement stated that it would not recognize the results of the elections.
Despite the fact that OSCE-ODIHR could not organize a full-fledged election observation mission due to restrictions imposed by the government in Baku, several parliamentary delegations from different countries and international organizations observed the Election Day procedures, making positive assessments even before the voting process was completed. None of them conducted long-term monitoring, and thus violated international standards of election observation set in the United Nations’ “Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.”
The most prominent election observation group that made a biased statement attesting to the democratic conduct of the entire election process was the delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by Jordi Xucla (ALDE, Spain). Some members of the PACE delegation, however, did not sign the statement, and three members of the delegation published a votum separatum, pointing out the failing preconditions to hold free and fair elections in Azerbaijan.
See the full report here: PDF (EN)