The Election Observation Mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was invited by the Azerbaijani authorities to monitor the parliamentary elections on 1 November 2015.
The Mission comprised 28 members and was led by Jordi Xuclà (Spain, ALDE). The members were deployed in several areas of the country and the capital, Baku, and observed in a wide number of polling stations. The elections were held in accordance with the Election Code of Azerbaijan, which provides a legal framework for the democratic conduct of elections.
It is the consensus of this Mission that election day was calm and peaceful across the country. The voting process was observed to be adequate and generally in line with international standards. Voters had full and unimpeded access to polling stations and there were no incidents reported by the observers. The observation mission therefore congratulates the Azerbaijani people for their peaceful and orderly conduct during this electoral process. The Central Election Commission contributed to the transparency of the process by releasing updates from the opening of the polls until the end of the counting and tabulation of the results.
Based on the observations of the Mission and meetings with other stakeholders, it can be stated that the preparation for the elections and the voting processes were professionally and technically well organized. Observers noted improvements in the access of voters to information, the inclusiveness of voter registration and the quality of electoral materials.
Throughout election day, the Mission did not report any major or systemic violations of the Election Code.
No acts of pressure on voters or any other incidents in or near the polling stations were observed. There was no police presence around the polling stations or any campaign and electoral materials nearby. A welcome development was the introduction of web cameras in 20 per cent of polling stations, as specifically requested by the Venice Commission. On the other hand, security cameras in schools should be covered in the future to fully ensure the privacy of the vote.
There was wide coverage of election day in local media.
The PACE mission notes the refusal of the European Parliament, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and OSCE/ODIHR to deploy their own observation missions. However, the EOM welcomes the presence of multiple local and international observers.
In conclusion, the delegation states that the significant increase in voter turnout and the transparency of voting and counting procedures demonstrate another step forward taken by the Republic of Azerbaijan towards free, fair and democratic elections and that the results of this vote express the will of the Azerbaijani people.
The Mission also underlines the importance of the findings of other international organizations (the European Parliament, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and OSCE/ODIHR) regarding previous and current elections.
As Azerbaijan is a country under the Assembly’s monitoring procedure, this Mission recommends to the Assembly to continue its co-operation with the Azerbaijani authorities, in order for Azerbaijan to fulfill its obligations and commitments, as agreed during its accession to the Council of Europe.