Azerbaijan election lacked genuine competition in an environment of curtailed rights and freedoms, observers say

The early presidential election in Azerbaijan took place within a restrictive political environment and under laws that curtail fundamental rights and freedoms, which are prerequisites for genuine democratic elections. Against this backdrop and in the absence of pluralism, including in the media, the election lacked genuine competition. Other candidates refrained from directly challenging or criticising the incumbent, and distinction was not made between his campaign and his official activities, the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement today.

At the same time, the authorities were co-operative and international observers were able to operate freely in the pre-election period, and the election administration was well resourced and prepared the election efficiently. 

“We have to consider that, in a political environment where democratic principles are compromised and the rule of law is not observed, fair and free elections are not possible,” said Viorel Riceard Badea (Romania, EPP/CD), head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). “On election day we observed several irregularities, but there is no way to know how this affected the outcome of the election.”