Widespread violations and significantly lower turnout recorded during the early Parliamentary elections
Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) observed yesterday’s early Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan and recorded similar violations on E-Day that have occurred in previous elections - one person voting multiple times, bussing of voters, ballot-box stuffing, and voting without registration. These violations were widespread and appeared to be deliberate actions aimed at breaching the law.
Turnout figures counted by observers were significantly lower than the figures the CEC officially released on their website throughout Election Day. Unlike in previous national elections, the CEC did not provide PEC level turnout information, only turnout by DEC. This is a significant step backwards in transparency of the process and of key electoral information.
The government failed to address recommendations of domestic organizations, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Committee of Ministers and the Venice Commission on the improvement of the Election Code, in particular with regard to the composition of election commissions to allow for equal and fair representation of various political forces.
EMDS did not note widespread violations during the first stage of the election process – nomination and registration of candidates. However, illegal interference of local executive authorities and pressure against some nominees were observed.
EMDS notes that election campaign period was marred by lower public interest and discussions in comparison with the previous parliamentary elections. There was no discussions or debates featuring opposition or independent candidates on TV, while candidates did not discuss local and national level issues.
Observers recorded cases of physical and verbal abuse of representatives of candidates and observers. Such illegal actions were committed by members of election commissions, local executive authorities and police towards observers protesting violations.
EMDS believes that violations recorded during all stages of the 9 February 2020 Early Parliamentary Elections made it impossible for the elections to be fair and free, violated the national legislation and international standards, and failed to reflect the free will of the people of Azerbaijan.
EMDS proposes the following recommendations based on the results of the monitoring:
- - ConECs and the CEC should investigate all complaints and reports of election violations without a delay, carry out necessary measures to hold officials responsible for the violations liable and inform the public about accordingly.
- - In order to end the ongoing crisis of political freedoms, the government should take steps towards building public trust in the state and should release all political prisoners.
- - The authorities should ensure political pluralism in the publicly-funded television and the government should demonstrate a political will to guarantee people’s freedoms of assembly, association and expression.
- - The government should reform the Election Code based on recommendations of domestic organizations, OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.
- - The CEC should take steps towards establishing online registration of observers, should provide more detailed information about the registration of candidates and voter turnout.
Read the full report here