PARIS, September 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
The overwhelming majority of voters are endorsing the upcoming referendum in Azerbaijan on constitutional reforms, according to a survey by Opinionway, a French research company.
While 87 per cent of respondents emphasized the importance of the proposed constitutional amendments, 88 per cent believe that these changes will positively affect the development of the respective areas in the country.
"Azerbaijanis believe that the proposals in connection with the security, protection, constitutional guarantees of human rights and freedoms will give impetus to further development," said Bruno Jeanbart of Opinionway.
Over five million Azerbaijani voters go to the polls on September 26th in a referendum that will ask voters to approve 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.
The minimum age to stand for parliament will be lowered from 25 to 18 and there will be no age limit for participating in the presidential elections (currently 35).
"The survey clearly shows that voters are happy about their political leadership," Jeanbart said, noting that 81 per cent of respondents are satisfied with the work of the political system in Azerbaijan and 93 per cent believe the country is headed in the right direction.
Of the most important issues facing voters, the economy ranks behind Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani territory which - along with seven surrounding provinces - continues to be occupied by Armenia in defiance of resolutions by international institutions such as the United Nations or European Parliament, calling for an unconditional and immediate withdrawal.
"Nagorno-Karabakh remains a highly emotional issue for voters, especially following the resurgence of hostilities in April," Jeanbart said.
The survey was based on interviews with 1,200 respondents that were randomly selected across the country. They answered 12 questions aimed at studying respondents' socio-demographic indicators, the political and economic situation in the country as well as the upcoming referendum.