Another Set of Elections
As I wrote before, there were elections here a few days ago, on Sunday (which, by the way, is a rather convenient day to have an election). I don’t really have much to report. I heard a few people mention something about voting when I went out to the store to buy a few things, but not much else. It seemed like just another day in Lənkəran.
However, the OSCE and The New York Times were pretty quick about getting their election reactions up. From the OSCE:
While there were improvements in some respects during the pre-election period, uncertainty was evident with regard to key aspects of the process such as voter registration, and continued restrictions on the freedom of assembly, a fundamental right, marred the campaign period…
On election day, observers assessed voting negatively in 13 per cent of polling stations visited. Observers witnessed attempts to influence voter choices, unauthorized persons interfering in, or directing, the process, as well as cases of ballot stuffing. Inking procedures, in particular the checking of voters’ fingers for traces of ink, were not followed in 11 per cent of polling stations visited, with several polling stations not applying the procedure at all. Domestic observers and even members of polling station commissions were observed being expelled from polling stations.
The observers assessed the ballot counting as bad or very bad in 43 per cent of counts observed. They noted a wide range of serious violations, including tampering with result protocols, intimidation of observers, and unauthorized persons directing the process.
That’s rough stuff Azerbaijan. Better luck next time. The OSCE press release does note, however, that there were improvements in various aspects of the run-up to the election, including voter education activities, media time for candidates, and finger-inking to prevent fraud (though that might not have worked out as well as we’d hoped). The New York Times posits:
A Western diplomat who observed voting described the election as “an absolute sham” marred by “egregious irregularities” including ballot stuffing and intimidation of public sector workers.
So not exactly ringing endorsements, but it does sound like it was an exciting day at the polls for a few people. I hope next time the OSCE assessment will note more improvements to the process. Until then, we’ll have to be content with a government devoid of opposition party members. Oh the joys of a semi-authoritarian post-Soviet state democracy!