CURRENT ELECTION CODE COULD PROVIDE A BASIS FOR CONDUCT OF DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS, OSCE/ODIHR OBSERVERS
Although improvements in this regard remain outstanding, the current Election Code could provide a basis for the conduct of democratic elections if implemented in a fair and impartial manner, says an interim report by OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Election Observation Mission to the Republic of Azerbaijan Parliamentary Elections, publicized on Friday..
Long-standing recommendations from OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission to improve the legislative framework for elections and introduce key safeguards to enhance public confidence have not been implemented. Although improvements in this regard remain outstanding, the current Election Code could provide a basis for the conduct of democratic elections if implemented in a fair and impartial manner, the document underlined.
The campaign rhetoric is often heated and negative, reflecting a polarized political atmosphere.
To date, the Presidential Decree of 11 May appears to have improved the overall campaign environment, but problems remain, in particular regarding restrictions on the freedom of assembly. Candidate registration marked a significant improvement over previous elections. More than 2000 candidates have been registered, in 125 single-member constituencies. Nine per cent of registered candidates are women.
Two prominent politicians, Mr. Rasul Guliyev, the exiled former speaker of the Milli Majlis, and Ayaz Mutalibov, the exiled former President, have been registered as candidates but face criminal charges if they return to Azerbaijan. The Central Election Commission (CEC) appears to be proceeding with technical preparations according to its schedule.
The media have started to broadcast campaign programs and candidate debates, and free airtime is being distributed as required by law. However, news coverage of the campaign suffers from a restrictive interpretation of campaign provisions.