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Azerbaijan: A Democratic Country

Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The Republic of Azerbaijan is going to celebrate its 100th anniversary of the establishment of Azerbaijan democratic republic this year. Presidential Elections 2018 will also be held on April 11 which reaffirms its democratic spirits. Constant just process of further democratization and politicization has transformed its governance, civility, society, legislation and administration due to which it has now achieved dreams of a qualitative life.
Azerbaijan is a democratic country and its Central Election Commission (CEC) is also an independent entity which has now created an independent media center for the upcoming presidential election. Any interested person, a presidential candidate or a candidate’s plenipotentiary representative can hold a press conference in the media center and take advantage of other opportunities which shows democratic practices in the Azerbaijan’s society which believes in fair-paly, equal opportunity, right to access of information and the last but not the least, right of association, the golden parameters/principles of the modern/western democracy. Moreover, independency and vibrancy of its mass media protects transparency and fairness in the elections. Azerbaijan has announced the media outlets that will allocate free airtime and space for publication for pre-election campaigns in the April 11 presidential election.

Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) being an independent organ of the state has facilitated the presidential electioneering by providing equal free airtime and space for publication to all the registered candidates at Public Television, the “Azerbaijan”,”Xalq Qazeti” and “Baku Worker” newspapers. Central Election Commission (CEC) has ordered to print 5,347,803 ballots to be used in the upcoming presidential election.

After fulfilling all the formalities of the CEC, the new Azerbaijan has submitted 45,000 signatures of voters and the corresponding documents to the CEC for registration of Ilham Aliyev’s candidacy which has been approved by it. Submission of 45,000 signatures of the voters reconfirms Azerbaijan’s society gross root political participation in the decision making of the governance. It also validates noble concept of “free-will” in a pure democratic country like Azerbaijan. According to the requirements of Azerbaijan’s Electoral Code, a candidate must collect at least 40,000 voters’ signatures from at least 60 electoral districts each. At least 50 signatures must be collected in each electoral district.
Till today numbers of candidates registered for presidential election in Azerbaijan has reached 18 which indicate Azerbaijan’s strong political wisdom, maturity and sense of democratic responsibility to take part the presidential election for the betterment of common people which negates so called western propaganda of “passive election and electioneering”. Pre-election campaign in Azerbaijan will begin on March 19 and end on April 10 at 08:00.

According to Azerbaijan’s constitution and electoral system, the President of Azerbaijan is elected using the two-round system; if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the first round, a run-off will be held which again clearly manifest complete transparency, fair-play and free choice in Azerbaijan. There is no one is indispensable and above the law. Law of the land is supreme and does not support any specific personality. Azerbaijan’s political system is dynamic and is not based on dynasty. It has multi-party democracy which widens scope of free choice of the voters. The New Azerbaijan Party, Azerbaijani Popular Front Party, Modern Equality Party, Whole Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan and National Revival Movement Party etc. are rigorously participating in the upcoming presidential election 2018. It also creates checks and balances in the electoral system.
To maintain, complete transparency, fair and free mechanism during the upcoming presidential election, the ECE has invited many regional as well as international observers from different organizations, NGOs and forums so snap presidential election 2018 is not being carried in isolation. According to Central Election Commission (CEC) more than 21 international observers have been registered for the presidential election to be held in Azerbaijan April 11 2018. Moreover, 22,000 local observers have also been registered, which means that there are on average four local observers per polling station. According to CEC till today, 13 observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and eight observers from the CIS have been registered for the presidential election.
Azerbaijan is an open, transparent country which believes in global cooperation and meaningful partnership in the spheres of democracy, human rights, women empowerment, climate change, sustainable development and socio-economic integration and inviting of so many regional and international observers again endorses democratic norms of Azerbaijan.
Despite as usual western media propaganda, snap presidential election 2018 is based on constitution and it is not an extra-constitutional act which permits its President to announce early presidential election which neither limits the opportunities of potential candidates nor gives them additional advantages. Snap election is not an
Western media seems to be prejudiced and narrowed by labeling snap election 2018 a “managed effort” on part of recent government of Azerbaijan but in reality snap presidential election has nothing to do with any kind of political maneuvering, administrative marginalization and above all self-assumed. Both parliamentary and presidential elections would be in 2025 in a month’s time which would not give an equal playing field to all the candidates for the snap presidential as well as parliamentary elections to be held in 2025. It would further strengthen “people’s free choice”. It would enhance political maturity in the country.
Azerbaijan has a smarter economy which possesses 75 percent GDP of the South Caucasus. Snap election 2018 has a solid economic reason too which will open up additional opportunities for carrying out important socio-economic and political reforms in the country. In all the western countries due to economic reasons, it has now become an international practice to hold election earlier in the year which ensures complete financial transparency and good governance from the beginning of the fiscal year.
Year 2018 is very important for Azerbaijan during which it will host a number of large-scale events (May to December), including international ones: the International Humanitarian Forum under the patronage of the Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan; celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic; the 10th anniversary of the Baku process, the next stage of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as a round of the Formula One World Championship, the world judo championship and the world championship on sport capoeira. So, snap presidential election is a smart administrative move which has nothing to do any kind of politics.
Being a democratic country, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the land of fire, hub of interfaith harmony, ideal place of international dialogue for peace, prosperity and above all globalization will hold upcoming snap election 2018 in a democratic, transparent and fair manner in accordance with both international norms and national legislation. According to European sociologists (2018), 81 percent of Azerbaijani citizens support the policy of the current government, and 85.2 percent personally incumbent president Ilham Aliyev.
Western media has its own vested interests which always speak about so called lack of press freedom, violation of human rights and discrimination. It simply shows double standards of western media. Constitution of Azerbaijan guarantees freedom of speech and information which is ensured in Azerbaijan. Moreover, the legislative base regulating the status and role of media in the society is improved. There are several hundreds of newspapers are published in the country. There are dozens of TV channels and news agencies operated in the country. Moreover, the number of Internet users exceeds 80 percent which shows high levels of artificial connectivity in the country. CEC has also established a “media center” for the upcoming election 2018.
In Azerbaijan democratic values are manifested in its true purpose. The country has provided all the rights and freedoms of individuals, regarding the ongoing reforms they have a social direction and are focused on continuous improvement of the people’s well-being.
The Azerbaijan people are directly involved in all political processes and always take an active part in determining the future of their country through participation in elections. Various parliamentary and presidential elections on regular basis have shown convincingly that the electoral legislation of Azerbaijan fully consistent with generally accepted international standards, where each voter is absolutely free to give their votes.
In Azerbaijan as in other democratic countries, the people elect their representatives in governments through direct voting. In connection with the upcoming presidential election all political parties of the country have begun their campaigns. All political parties have equal rights to participate in elections and equal opportunities for the organization of meetings with the electorate, campaigning and dissemination through the media of their election programs.

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