European Observers Find Parliamentary Elections in Azerbaijan "Transparent and Democratic"

Nov 02, 2015, 06:42 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, November 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

European officials observing the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan have called the election process "transparent and democratic", noting that it has been conducted "according to recognised international standards."

The Election Observation Mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) released a statement Monday which read: "The voting process was observed to be adequate and generally in line with international standards."

"Based on the observations of the Mission and meetings with other stakeholders, it can be stated that the preparation for the elections and the voting processes were professionally and technically well organised."

It concluded that "the significant increase in voter turnout and the transparency of voting and counting procedures demonstrate another step forward taken by the Republic of Azerbaijan towards free, fair and democratic elections and that the results of this vote express the will of the Azerbaijani people."

Preliminary results showed Monday that candidates from the ruling New Azerbaijan party and independents aligned to the government had won a clear majority of the 125-seat parliament. 

Franz Obermayr, a member of the European Parliament, told the media in Baku Monday that he observed a "fair process" and found the election procedures "transparent and democratic." He also congratulated Azerbaijan on the number of women standing for election. 

Veteran election observer and member of the European Academy of Election Observation, Wolfgang Grossruck, said his group had found no interference with the electoral process nor problems with the identification of voters, adding; "I want to stress that in general, the election was held at a high level."

"The votes were counted transparently and there were no problems," the Austrian observer told the media in Baku. "We felt that overall, this was a good result."

Grossruck, the former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, also noted that the vote was a secret ballot and he approved of the use of more than 1,000 webcams, which allowed online monitoring of the polling stations. He said he encourages their continued use in future elections.

The election results are consistent with an exit poll Sunday overseen by respected American polling firm Arthur J. Finkelstein & Associates, which found these candidates had gained 74 to 75 per cent of the vote.

George Birnbaum, the Executive Director of Arthur J. Finkelstein & Associates, said the outcome was in line with pre-election surveys, which found voters in no mood for change, and that security was a key issue.

"Economic security mattered less to (opinion poll) respondents than security. Voters tend to support those who keep them safe," he said Sunday.

Ahead of these elections, both Finkelstein and French polling specialists Opinionway had found the continued occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia to be the number one issue for voters, followed closely by security concerns. The voters polled overwhelmingly agreed the present government was best placed to handle these issues.

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor