This was the first time in Azerbaijan that municipal elections received wide spread coverage and public interest" />

Independents, observers in Azerbaijani municipal elections point at irregularities

This was the first time in Azerbaijan that municipal elections received wide spread coverage and public interest

Municipal elections are being held in Azerbaijan. For the first time since the country gained independence, the public has shown some interest in these elections, and among the candidates there are former political prisoners a number of opposition figures and feminists.

Municipal elections are being held in Azerbaijan. For the first time since the country gained independence, the public has shown some interest in these elections, and among the candidates there are former political prisoners a number of opposition figures and feminists.

• Tbilisi protesters demanding snap parliamentary elections after gov’t fails to deliver on election reform

• Azerbaijan: feminists, former political prisoners announce candidacies in formerly ignored municipal elections

In general, more than 40,000 candidates are taking part in the elections, of which 15,156 will be elected in 1606 municipalities throughout the country.

22:00

Polls have closed in Azerbaijan for municipal elections.

Independent candidate observers reported numerous violations at several polling stations –  “carousels” and obstructing the work of observers and journalists.

Voter turnout was 32.72%, the election commission reports.

Preliminary election results will be made known on December 24.

14:00

By 12:00, 18.07% of voters managed to vote in the municipal elections, Report.az cites the representative of the Central Election Commission as saying.

In social networks and independent media, information appeared about violations at some polling stations.

In the Surakhani district near Baku, observers recorded a so-called “carousel” – the same people voted several times at different polling stations.

Turan writes that the directors of the schools in which the elections are being held are leading this process.

Official comments could not be obtained.

In addition, in some polling stations both in Baku and in the provinces, election commission officials interfere with independent observers, Toplum.tv said.

For example, in the Nizami district of Baku, they were forbidden to record on camera.  There are no CCTV cameras on this site either, although by law theRe should be.

The absence of cameras was also reported by residents of other areas of the capital.

Entrance to the polling station in the center of Baku, organized in the school building.

Just why are these elections so unusual for Azerbaijan? 

For the first time, municipal elections in Azerbaijan were held in 1999, and since then have been held every five years.

Earlier, they went completely unnoticed. Many residents of the country did not go to these elections, and even the opposition and journalists perceived them as a mere formality.

But this year on December 23, the elections are being held against the backdrop of a general revival of the country’s political life and several unexpected events.

The main recent surprise was the dissolution of parliament and the announcement of early parliamentary elections, which will be held on February 9, 2020.

In addition, over the past three months, President Ilham Aliyev “shuffled” the government and dismissed several large and unpopular officials in society.

And a week before the municipal elections, the state security department detained two heads of the executive branch on charges of corruption and theft.

In the fall, several unauthorized protests took place in Azerbaijan, for the first time in several years.

Campaigning and first violations 

Opposition and activist candidates have actively campaigned on Facebook, urging young people to go to the polls and even sign up as independent observers.

On December 21, one of the candidates, Vafa Nagi, the founder of a social business for employing women in one of the provinces, spoke about pressure and threats from local authorities on her Facebook page.  

The reason for this was that Nagi asked how legitimate it was that the election commission included the nephew of the current head of the municipality.


More on JAMnews