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Azerbaijan’s Referendum 2016

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


Referendum is an internationally legitimate mean to reach on a solid national consensus in the Western Democratic World. It is also widely used to introduce certain constitutional amendments in the given political setup. It is the best political exercise to judge the people’s priorities through their free choices via votes on certain policy issues.

Most recently, the Republic of Azerbaijan has introduced certain constitutional amendments thorough country-wide referendum in its country. A clear-cut majority has supported the government’s initiative for the extension of Presidency tenure from 5 to 7 years. More than 88.9 percent of voters supported Azerbaijan’s constitution amendments. Voter turnout in the referendum in Azerbaijan was more than in France, Germany and any country of the EU which showed high level of political maturity of Azeri people.

President H.E. Ilham Aliyev said the Azerbaijani government ensured the maximum transparency in the referendum on amendments to the Constitution of Azerbaijan. The president said the people of Azerbaijan “freely expressed” their will. It once again showed the will of Azerbaijani people who “supported” the “pursued policy” and voted for “security”, “stability”, “development”, “dignity” and “independence”.

It reflected people’s “great confidence” in the socio-economic policies of the government. It gives strength and more confidence to Azeri government. It will protect Azerbaijan national interests which are the interests of Azerbaijani people and their values. Last but not the least; it would further protect the “path of independence and dignity”. Azerbaijan Referendum, has already supported and endorsed by the Azeri people, regional organizations, independent forums, international observers and reputed international elections monitoring agencies.

Head of Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) termed the constitutional referendum in the country valid and according to international standards. It was free, fair and transparent in all respects. According to CEC exit poll (September 27, 2016), 3,671,707 people i.e. 69.7 percent of voter cast their ballots in the referendum. The whole referendum was so transparent that not a single complaint was filed to the Central Election Commission and the referendum to amend Azerbaijan’s constitution was held transparently. Final results will be announced on October 21, 2016.

European Parliament Vice-President Ryszard Czarnecki also respected the results of the referendum in Azerbaijan because it reflected the will of its nation. He expressed satisfaction with the results of the referendum. It called the Azeri vote “free, open and sound,” stressing that it has been conducted “in accordance with the best international standards, and that it definitely expressed the will of the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan.” Azerbaijanis are changing their system to adjust it to Western standards and European Parliament finds the referendum democratic.”

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Europe’s body of democracy and human rights, called the voting process “transparent, well organised, efficient and peaceful”. It expressed the willingness of the people of Azerbaijan as “a step forward towards safe, stable and sustainable development of their country and target establishing a more efficient governance system and implementing more meaningful reforms.”

According to CEC over five million Azerbaijanis were asked to approve 29 constitutional amendments, with a separate vote on each one. The overwhelming majority of the 69.7 per cent turnout supported the extension of the presidential term from five to seven years, as well as plans to create the new position of a First Vice President, who would become the country’s number two. Nearly 90 per cent supported either all or the majority of the amendments.


As many as 117 international observers, MPs from over 30 countries as well as observers from various international organizations, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) were accredited by Azerbaijan’s CEC to observe the referendum. The number of polling stations in the referendum was 5,600 and there were about 10 observers in each polling station. The total number of the observers was around 53,000. Even Citizens’ Labor Rights Protection League and the US AJF & Associates organization were also thoroughly engaged with the whole process of the said referendum.

The referendum on amending Azerbaijan’s Constitution has now provided a long-term strategic road map. It is road map of greater socio-economic development. It is the road map of greater regional connectivity and greater global partnership. It would further protect its native culture, social and diplomatic pursuits. It would further strengthen government’s national drive against corruption and transparency in the country. Moreover, it would further strengthen elements of stability and sustainability in the national policies of Azerbaijan. It would further enhance stability and security in the country.

According to CIS Parliamentary Assembly election observation mission, Azerbaijan was well prepared for the referendum on constitutional amendments which manifested the supreme form of expression of will by the Azerbaijani people. Referendum was multi-dimensional. It had multiplier effects. It would further strengthen its democracy. It would introduce an innovative attitude and completely new norms of democratic development. Moreover, it would promote new elements in the state system that would be people’s friendly. It would further enhance its focus on development and democratization of society.

Concluding Remarks

The Republic of Azerbaijan has recently held “Referendum” on 29 constitutional amendments in its country. According to CEC of Azerbaijan, majority of the voters supported and satisfied with the introduction of 29 constitutional amendments. Final results will be announced on October 21, 2016.

Azeri voters voted for development, stability and security. They voted for continuity which is indeed has a direct correlation with political and economic stability in the country. Azeri voter’s turnout was even more than any developed country of the EU which clearly manifested its people’s political maturity and strong commitment to rigorously engage with the system of governance. Continuity of the political system is the mother of all economic developments. It will further enhance the productive role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). It will encourage foreign direct investments (FDIs). It will accelerate joint ventures with so many regional as well as international partners. It will boost its macro-economy.

Political referendum would further strengthen Azerbaijan stability, security and development. Azerbaijan is the hub of FDIs, joint ventures and infrastructural developments in the CIS and Caucasus which will be further developed and progressed after recently held referendum in which Azeri voters voted for dignity, independence, progress, prosperity and above all socio-economic continuity.

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