Each night in Azerbaijan, thousands of families are tuning in on television to watch the next installment in what has become a de facto smash hit series – debates involving the 688 candidates in the November 7 parliamentary elections.
Some observers question whether the format for the televised debates allows candidates to reach voters with any meaningful message. Moderators do not ask questions. Rather, the candidates simply make statements that may or may not have anything to do with their policy ideas, or their opponents’ assertions.
Some pro-government candidates take aim at opposition leaders Isa Gambar, head of the Musavat Party, and Ali Kerimli, head of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, regardless of whether or not there is an opposition candidate on hand to respond.
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Khadija Ismayilova is a freelance reporter based in Baku.