Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

European Parliament goes soft on flawed Azerbaijan election

OSCE found significant problems with the election but Parliament observers concluded that the election was 'free, fair and transparent.

The European Parliament's credibility as a guardian of democracy has been damaged by a report on Azerbaijan's presidential election that is markedly kinder than the verdict of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The OSCE found significant problems with every stage of the campaign, including intimidation of candidates and voters, the stuffing of ballot boxes, and intimidation of journalists. It assessed 58% of observed polling stations as bad or very bad. The election on 9 October returned Ilham Aliev as president with 85% of the vote. He has been president since 2003, when he took over from his father Heidar Aliev, who had been president for the previous ten years. The OSCE said that Azerbaijan had failed to heed most of its earlier recommendations.

An official election observation mission by the European Parliament, however, concluded that the election was “free, fair and transparent” and was marked by “more open electoral debate”. The team of seven MEPs, led by Pino Arlacchi of the Italian centre-left, limited its criticism almost entirely to saying that “improvements are still desirable with regards to the electoral framework”.

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