Day of Silence begins in Azerbaijan

Day of Silence begins in Azerbaijan

Today the Day of Silence begins in Azerbaijan, on the eve of the parliamentary elections which will be held in the country on Sunday, November 1st. The Day of Silence formally began at 08:00 (07:00 MSK), 24 hours before the start of Sunday's vote. From this point on, any election campaigning is prohibited.

The Azerbaijani parliament, the Milli Mejlis, is a unicameral legislative body, in which 125 deputies work. They are elected by a first-past-the-post system: the country's territory is divided into 125 single-member districts, which several candidates fight for the right to represent. Candidates can represent parties and political blocs, initiative groups, self-nomination is also possible.

According to the CEC, 769 candidates applied for 125 seats in the parliament, in other words, there is an average of six applicants for one deputy mandate. Almost half of the candidates are nominees of the parties. The elections involve 15 parties as well as the bloc 'Azadlig-2015' ('Freedom'), which consists of seven parties.

On the eve of the elections, the candidates did not show much activity. The streets of Baku have few political posters, promotional materials are generally placed in front of the polling stations at special stands. The absence of a large amount of outdoor advertising is also connected with legal restrictions: Azerbaijan prohibits putting up posters on buildings in order to avoid damaging facades.

According to the deputy chairman of the party 'Yeni Azerbaijan', Ali Ahmedov, despite the outward calm, there is an atmosphere of competition in the country. "Maybe outwardly it doesn't look so competitive, but in reality everything is different. There are posters, political advertising is also present. This year there is less TV advertising, but the fact is that, according to the Electoral Code of Azerbaijan, only those political parties that have registered candidates in more than 60 districts can use TV as an advertising platform," the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza quoted him as saying.

"No one except our party was able to cross that line, so we decided that in such circumstances it would not be entirely fair if our candidates would speak on TV. So we also refused," the deputy chairman of the party stressed.

The Central Electoral Commission of Azerbaijan registered more than 63 thousand local observers and 490 international ones – more than 40 international organizations have delegated their missions, including the CIS, PACE and the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-speaking countries. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has not sent an observation mission because of differences with the authorities in the estimates of the necessary number of observers.