Azerbaijan has voted in favor of extending the presidential term from five to seven years, election authorities said on Tuesday, a step that critics say will hand unprecedented powers to President Ilham Aliyev who has led the country since 2003. The state election commission said a vast majority of the 91.2 percent of voters who turned out in a referendum in the Caspian Sea oil-producer had backed the move. “The referendum was conducted in a transparent manner,” Mazakhir Panakhov, commission head, said before reading out the result of Monday’s plebiscite. Aliyev, 54, who succeeded his father as president, can seek re-election indefinitely after a maximum number of terms in office was scrapped via a similar referendum seven years ago.
President Ilham Aliyev’s ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) has claimed a landslide victory in the country’s November 1 parliamentary elections — a vote that was boycotted by Europe’s largest monitoring agency and all of Azerbaijan’s established opposition parties. Aliyev’s ruling party was widely expected to maintain its dominance as a result of the election, which came in the midst of a persistent government clampdown on dissent that shows few signs of being lifted. The former Soviet republic’s 5,547 polling stations closed at 7 p.m.local time and some 5 million Azerbaijanis were eligible to vote.
Voters in the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan cast ballots Sunday in a parliamentary election that is expected to secure the ruling party’s dominance. International rights groups have accused Azerbaijani authorities of limiting free speech, and the main trans-Atlantic security and rights group, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has refused to monitor the vote after Azerbaijan demanded that it sharply cut the number of observers. It marks the first time since Azerbaijan won independence after the 1991 Soviet collapse that the OSCE will not monitor its election. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s government long has faced criticism in the West for showing little tolerance for dissent and holding elections that fall below democratic standards.
Azerbaijan’s big presidential election, held on Wednesday, was anticipated to be neither free nor fair. President Ilham Aliyev, who took over from his father 10 years ago, has stepped up intimidation of activists and journalists. Rights groups are complaining about free speech restrictions and one-sided state media coverage. The BBC’s headline for its story on the election reads “The Pre-Determined President.” So expectations were pretty low. Even still, one expects a certain ritual in these sorts of authoritarian elections, a fealty to at least the appearance of democracy, if not democracy itself. So it was a bit awkward when Azerbaijan’s election authorities released vote results – a full day before voting had even started.
Azerbaijan: President’s re-election declared a day before the vote; opposition cries foul | The Washington Post
Something funny happened the day before Azerbaijan’s presidential election: The election commission announced the winner. On Tuesday, the smartphone app of the Central Election Commission released the results of Wednesday’s vote, showing President Ilham Aliyev, whose family has been at the helm of this oil-rich Caspian Sea nation for four decades, winning 73 percent of the vote. The commission explained the gaffe by saying that a software developer had released the figures as a “test” at one polling station. It apologized for the “misunderstanding.” Official results on Thursday showed Aliyev winning nearly 85 percent of the vote. His closest challenger, main opposition candidate Jamil Hasanli, trailed with less than 6 percent, followed by eight fringe candidates, according to the commission.