Azerbaijan Democracy Report
IRI Azerbaijan Conducts Partisan Observer
250 Democratic Activists Trained
IRI-Azerbaijan sponsored a series of five training seminars that gave basic
information on electoral law to almost 300 partisan observers in preparation
for the November 2nd municipal bye-elections. Each of the five major Azeri political
parties participated - Azerbaijan Democratic Party (ADP), Azerbaijan National
Independence Party (ANIP), Musavat, Popular Front Party (PFP), and Yeni Azerbaijan
Partisan election observers are key to the success of any electoral process.
These people are tasked by their party to monitor the election process in an
individual precinct and protect their party's interests.
As in the United States,
where the Republican and Democratic parties enlist challengers to watch the
polls, the mere presence of partisan observers who can demonstrate knowledge
of the law and a willingness to be vocal can provide a deterrent to election
Unfortunately, in Azerbaijan, many partisan observers are woefully informed
about their rights and responsibilities under the Azeri election law.
Azeri lawyer Hafiz Hassanov, an expert on Azeri election law who also works
for the domestic NGO For The Sake Of Civil Society, lectured at the seminars
and directed participants through role playing exercises that gave participants
a concept of the challenges they might actually face in a precinct.
Partisan Observer Training Seminar
Agenda of Issues:
- Overview of Current Election Law - A basic overview of the election law
as it currently stands.
- Rights & Responsibilities - Rights and responsibilities of partisan
observers under the current law. What observers can do. What observers cannot
- Precinct Operation - How the election precincts are operated. The role of
the PEC members and the Chair of the PEC. The process for opening a precinct.
How the precinct should be run during the day. How the voting process should
work. The process for closing the precinct, the vote count and the preparation
of the protocols.
- Fraud and Abuse - Common forms of fraud and how to combat them.
- Complaints - How to write an official complaint that will be accepted by
Ilham Aliyev Meets with IRI Washington
During Ilham Aliyev's recent trip to the United States, IRI Eurasia Director
Steve Nix and Assistant Program Officer for the Caucuses Jeff Greene, as well
as representatives from the National Democratic Institute and International
Federation for Election Systems met to discuss political developments and
areas of cooperation in Azerbaijan.
Mr. Nix used the meeting
to discuss Azerbaijani legislative priorities as well as to gain a better understanding
of the newly proposed Unified Election Code (UEC). Like many others in the international
NGO community, IRI hopes that there will be adequate public debate on this vital
piece of legislation.
Mr. Aliyev stressed that an open discussion about the election law would be
most helpful and pointed with eagerness to the OSCE-sponsored roundtable discussions
that will be taking place concerning the draft law. Mr. Aliyev stated that the
agenda of parliament will be varied, but they will be working with the Council
of Europe to bring the laws of Azerbaijan into accordance with international
Overall the meeting was very positive and IRI was able to pave the way for
increased communication and cooperation with the presidential party.
Center-Right View to Unemployment
By Ilgar Mamedov
Azerbaijan National Independence Party
In Azerbaijan unemployment is not a pure matter of economic policy, but to
a larger extent it is a political problem: unemployment impoverishes people,
prevents their personal and social development, and thus provides basis for
the existing undemocratic political regime. Hence, the major task of ANIP's
government would be strengthening major democratic institutions.
Some international studies claim that democracy begins only at per capita GDP
of USD 2,000. Azerbaijan's current per capita GDP is USD650, but with purchasing
parity power taken into account, we as a nation are just about to pass the international
'wealth test' for democracy.
Good deal of unemployment in Azerbaijan is of structural character, i.e. in
some areas of the economy demand for labor force is higher than in others. This
fact challenges our education system. Therefore, deep reform and better planning
in this area would significantly prevent the future increase in unemployment
rate. In addition, public funding of training schools where people would quickly
acquire new knowledge and skills to adapt to new economic situations would contribute
to the decline in the number of jobless people.
Mobility of young males in Azerbaijan is quite high, while older generation
and female population are attached to their traditional place of residence.
Since regional economic development programs are practically non-existent, there
is a massive migration of young and mid-age male jobseekers from provinces to
Baku, the capital city, or abroad. To put an end to this regional disproportion
of labor market we would create favorable environment for investments outside
Implementation of an efficient anti-corruption program would also contribute
to the increase of direct foreign investments in non-oil sector, and a large
portion of this FDI flow could be channeled to the regions so that to reduce
tension at labor market in Baku.
Legal and administrative barriers to the development of private sector should
be eliminated so that private businesses could open more jobs. Tax cuts are
the key element of such policy. Not only legal taxes should be reduced, however,
but the illegal taxes - bribes - should be reduced by strengthening government
As the above comments show, ANIP is a center-right political party, and mainly
relies on conservative tools in economic management. Besides that, we believe
that the problem of unemployment in Azerbaijan should be addressed from many
directions, including political democratization and economic liberalization,
and it cannot be resolved only by economic regulation.
Each issue of the Democracy Report features an
issue-based article from either ADP, ANIP, Musavat, PFP, or YAP. They will appear
in alphabetical order. The views expressed in each article are that of the party
that authored it. They do not represent IRI's position.
IRI Eurasia Division Director Visits
With ANIP Chairman, Etibar Mamedov
Azerbaijan National Independence Party (ANIP) Chairman Etibar Mamedov recently
visited IRI headquarters in Washington, DC. Chairman Mamedov met with Eurasia
Division Director Steve Nix and Assistant Program Officer Jeff Greene.
During the meeting IRI and Chairman Mamedov discussed a variety of political
issues facing Azerbaijan and ANIP. Of particular concern to both IRI and ANIP
was the status of the proposed Unified Election Code (UEC) and related public
forums. In addition, IRI and ANIP discussed ways to increase cooperation with
political parties in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan Political News Round-up
- Parliament continued its fall session. The most heated debates cantered
around the draft law on "Public television." The proposal would
create the first ever public television in Azerbaijan and would be accessibly
to all political parties.
- Head of the President's Office's Department on Legislation Mr. Shahin Aliyev
said the draft of the Unified Election Code would be introduced to the Parliament
next month and informed that the OSCE would organize roundtables among the
political parties to discuss the draft.
- Opposition parties held unified demonstrations on October 4 and 27 with
slogans: "Resignation!" "Fair Presidential Elections!"
and "Only National Government can resolve Karabakh Problem!" Approximately
8,000 people participated in these events. The opposition parties expressed
their intentions to continue these demonstrations