The only unanswered question heading into Azerbaijan’s presidential election October 9 was whether it would be perceived as the country’s first-ever “free-and-fair” vote. The suspense didn’t last long, as a torrent of reports about irregularities began pouring in long before polling stations closed.
Following what could only be described as a low-energy election campaign, President Ilham Aliyev was universally expected to cruise to a third term in the October 9 voting. But more than just victory, members of Aliyev’s team were hoping to secure a sense of legitimacy in the election. Given the administration’s desire to raise its profile on the international stage, securing such an outcome was seen as important for the government.
Authorities took steps to heighten confidence. For example, webcams were installed in about 20 percent of all polling stations. Meanwhile, pro-government news websites provided coverage of official plans for increased spending on infrastructure and forecasts for an economic growth rate of over 5 percent.
To read the full story
Shahin Abbasov is a freelance correspondent based in Baku.