NEW YORK, September 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
The upcoming referendum in Azerbaijan on constitutional changes is "both deeply held and enthusiastically supported," according to the results of a survey by renowned U.S. polling firm Arthur J. Finkelstein and Associates.
The national pre-referendum survey of voters showed that over 92 per cent of the electorate support the referendum to bring about constitutional reforms, with a large majority of them saying they are very likely to vote.
"All the internal indications show that support for the government and its actions have reached extraordinary levels as concerns over the Nagorno-Karabkah conflict have continued to rise," said George Birnbaum, Executive Director of Arthur J. Finkelstein.
The Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding provinces - which resulted in nearly a million displaced Azerbaijanis - remains a hot-button issue for voters, especially after the long-simmering hostilities escalated in April, leaving dozens dead. Many international organisations, including the United Nations and European Parliament have called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territories.
"During our first nationwide look at Azerbaijan in 2013, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue ranked third at 16.1 per cent," Birnbaum said, adding that the issue rose to first place in 2015 at 41.3 per cent. "By April of 2016 that number reached 81.5 per cent and today it's a staggering 96.7 per cent."
Birnbaum noted that over 98 per cent of respondents credit the government for protecting its citizens from terrorism and over 95 per cent believe that Azerbaijan is the most stable country in the region. "In 2015, 77 per cent of respondents said the country was going in the right direction," Birnbaum said. "Today that number is 91.4 per cent, clearly indicating that Azerbaijanis trust their elected politicians to maintain political and economic stability and to keep fighting for the return of Nagorno-Karabakh."
On September 26th, over five million Azerbaijani voters will be asked whether they approve of 29 constitutional amendments, with a separate vote on each one. Among the key changes proposed are an extension of the presidential term from five to seven years as well as the introduction of the new position of First Vice President, who would become the country's number two, instead of the Prime Minister as is the case now.
According to the Finkelstein survey, over 86 per cent agree with the changes to the structure of executive power.
SOURCE Arthur J. Finkelstein & Associates