By R. Ravichandran
BAKU (AZERBAIJAN), Feb 9 (NNN-BERNAMA) — A total of 19 political parties, including the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) of President Ilham Aliyev, are contesting for the 125-seat National Assembly (Milli Majlis), in the parliamentary election tomorrow (Sunday, Feb 9).
President Aliyev dissolved the parliament on Dec 2 last year, paving the way for this early election. The parliamentary election had been scheduled for November 2020.
Milli Majlis is the country’s unicameral parliament. Last November, Aliyev appointed Ali Asadov as Prime Minister following the resignation of Novruz Mammadov.
According to Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission (CEC), a total of 1,325 candidates are contesting for the 125 seats.
There are about 1,000 international observers and 50,000 local observers during the elections. Among them are the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Foreign media, too, have been invited to cover the election. Campaigning period is 21 days.
Registered voters of this republic, which is located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, are 5.23 million out of some 10 million people. The eligible voting age in Azerbaijan is 18 years old.
Preliminary election results will be known on the same day. Several bodies and organisations have been given the approval to hold exit polls in the elections.
In the last parliamentary election held in 2015, the ruling YAP won 69 out of 125 seats.
After asserting its independence from Russia in 1918 and prior to its incorporation into the Soviet Union in 1920, Azerbaijan gained the distinction of being the first democratic state in the Muslim world. In October 1991, Azerbaijan declared its independence from the then Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, compared to many other countries where election violence and political tensions are something common in the run-up to voting, it is business as usual in Azerbaijan with the central city buzzing with activities and traffic.
The oil-producing country is enjoying a high level of political stability for many years after some turbulent times in the early 1990s.
According to Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Malaysia, Prof Dr Qaley Allahverdiyev, this election is important in the context of various ongoing reforms being implemented by President Aliyev who wanted more of the younger generation to take part in the political process of the country.
He said as part of social reforms, the government had, among others, increased the minimum salary and minimum pension amount last year.
“Some countries went through revolutions because there are no new things…no changes. But we want to go in an evolutionary way. (The) President wants more opportunity to be given to the younger generation and educated people. This is a renewal process. The people are happy and view positively of his vision for the country,” he told Bernama.
Allahverdiyev also said that more parties and more candidates are contesting in this election, compared to the 2015 elec