Editorial: Make or Break? Azerbaijan’s 1 November elections will reveal all.

This is an editorial comment by Caucasus Elections Watch

Caucasus Elections Watch is today starting its coverage of the Parliamentary Elections that are due to be held in Azerbaijan on 1 November 2015. Five million Azerbaijani voters will be asked to vote for 125 members of the Milli Meclis – the country’s unicameral parliament. Voting takes place in single seat constituencies.

A free and fair electoral process is guaranteed by the Constitution of Azerbaijan and by Azerbaijani legislation, as well as by Azerbaijan’s commitments as a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE. Or so it should be! Elections in Azerbaijan over the last decade have however been, at best, problematic. Report after report by credible elections observation missions, particularly those of ODIHR – the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE, have consistently flagged up problems, ranging from shortcomings to outright abuse. The conclusion from the sum of these reports leaves one in no doubt that, despite the fact that there have been improvements in the actual organisation of the process, the elections were lacking in many other accounts, resulting in a distortion of the will of the Azerbaijani people as expressed through the ballot box. More…