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Despite large number of candidates, Azerbaijan elections lacked genuine competition and choice, observers say

The restrictive legislation and political environment prevented genuine competition in Azerbaijan’s early parliamentary elections, international observers said in a preliminary statement published today. Although some prospective candidates were denied the right to stand, candidate registration was otherwise inclusive. Despite the large number of candidates, voters were not provided with a meaningful choice, due to a lack of real political discussion, the statement says.

The observation mission, a joint undertaking of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), noted that many candidates used social media to reach out to the voters, but this did not compensate for the absence of campaign coverage in traditional media.

“Despite some appearance of progress in the preparation for the elections, the widespread violations of counting procedures raised serious concerns about the results of the voting in general,” said Frank Schwabe (Germany, SOC), Head of the PACE delegation. “In contradiction to the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights and repeated requests from the Council of Europe in the cases of Ilgar Mammadov and others, a number of potential candidates were prevented from running.”

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The international election observation mission comprised 358 observers from 41 countries – 273 ODIHR-deployed experts and observers, 57 parliamentarians and staff from the OSCE PA, and 28 from PACE.

For further information contact:
Nat Parry, OSCE PA, +994 55 980 42 56 or + 45 60 10 81 77, nat@oscepa.dk
Thomas Rymer, ODIHR, +994 55 414 41 79, thomas.rymer@odihr.az
Bogdan Torcatoriu, PACE, bogdan.torcatoriu@coe.int