EMDS issued the preliminary report on the 9 February Early Parliamentary Elections in Azerbaijan

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The Preliminary Statement covers the results of the election day monitoring of the 9 February 2020 early Parliamentary Elections by Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) and provides a summary of the long-term observation of the elections.

Restrictions of political freedoms, in particular freedoms of assembly, association and expression, were not lifted prior to the elections. The government failed to demonstrate a political will to release more than 100 people classified as political prisoners by domestic human rights organizations.

The government failed to address recommendations of domestic organizations, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Committee of Ministers and the Venice Commission on the improvement of the Election Code, in particular with regard to the composition of election commissions to allow for equal and fair representation of various political forces.

EMDS did not note widespread violations during the first stage of the election process – nomination and registration of candidates. However, illegal interference of local executive authorities and pressure against some nominees were observed.

EMDS notes that election campaign period was marred by lower public interest and discussions in comparison with the previous parliamentary elections. There was no discussions or debates featuring opposition or independent candidates on TV, while candidates did not discuss local and national level issues.

Observers recorded the cases of physical and verbal abuse of representatives of candidates and observers. Such illegal actions were committed by members of election commissions, local executive authorities and police towards observers protesting violations.

EMDS believes that violations recorded during all stages of the 9 February 2020 Early Parliamentary Elections made it impossible for the elections to be fair and free, violated the national legislation and international standards, and failed to reflect the free will of the people of Azerbaijan.

EMDS calls all election commissions to investigate all complaints and reports of election violations without a delay and to carry out necessary measures for holding officials responsible for the violations liable and inform the public about accordingly. EMDS believes that the government should take steps towards building public trust in the state in order to end the ongoing crisis of political freedoms, and should release all political prisoners, and to improve the Election Code based on recommendations of domestic organizations, OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

For the full report, download the file here.