For Azerbaijan’s long-fragmented opposition, the setback in the recent presidential election could mark the start of a return to competitiveness.
The unified candidate for National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF), 61-year-old historian Jamil Hasanli, never stood a serious chance in the October 9 election against President Ilham Aliyev. The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in its initial election findings said that “limitations on the freedoms of expression, assembly and association that did not guarantee a level playing field for candidates.” ODIHR observers also noted “significant problems were observed throughout all stages of election-day processes.” In the official tally, Hasanli received 5.53 percent of the vote. Aliyev cruised to a third term with almost 85 percent.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance correspondent based in Baku.