On February 7th, Azerbaijan held an early presidential election. According to initial results announced by the Central Election Committee late on February 7th, Ilham Aliyev wins 92.3% of the votes.
The breakdown of votes for the other six candidates is as follows:
Voting started at 08:00 local time and continued until 19:00. Despite local regulations, Ilham Aliyev and his family chose to vote in Khankendi instead of their registered location in Baku.
Per the legislation, Ilham Aliyev will govern the country for another seven years.
Initial Exit-poll Results
Following the conclusion of the voting, organizations conducting exit polls in the snap elections began announcing their findings.
According to the Oracle Advisory Group’s initial results, Ilham Aliyev secured 93.9% of the votes. George Birnbaum, Oracle Advisory Group’s representative, called it as a triumph of democracy.
The victory in Karabakh garnered tremendous support for Ilham Aliyev. Beyond Karabakh, people from various Azerbaijani regions also expressed their backing for him. The 2024 results are thus not surprisingBirnbaum remarked.
First Congratulations from Counterparts
Immediately after the exit poll results were announced, Ilham Aliyev received congratulations from his counterparts. The first call came from Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, followed by Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko.
Subsequently, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Russian President Vladimir Putin extended their congratulations on his electoral triumph.
Expulsion of Local Observers
Seven international and regional organizations were registered to observe the election. According to CEC Chairman Mazahir Panahov, the elections were being monitored by 790 international and over 90,000 local observers. However, observers from PACE were not invited to monitor the election.
As with previous elections, reports of election fraud, pressure on independent observers, and journalists surfaced on February 7th, as documented by independent media outlets.
Local observers encountered pressure, with several being expelled from polling stations. Journalist Ulviyya Ali reported that activists Javid Nabiyev and two others monitoring the election at one of the polling stations in Baku, were expelled following a call to the police by officials.
Challenges for Independent Media
Independent journalists were reportedly denied entry to polling stations to cover the voting, according to Meydan TV. Incidents of ballot stuffing were exposed by independent media outlets such as Mikroskop Media, Abzas Media, and Toplum TV, using monitoring cameras installed by the CEC.
A video shared by Mikroskop Media depicted polling station officials stuffing ballots into the box individually.
Meydan TV field reporters uncovered instances of “election carousels,” where groups of people voted in multiple polling stations.
Independent media outlets faced a smear campaign led by government-funded TV broadcasts and online media outlets. A government-funded fact-checking website accused Mikroskop Media and Meydan TV of being provocateurs, with other pro-governmental websites and TV broadcasts echoing similar sentiments.
The purpose of such a resource, which exhibits a hostile position against Azerbaijan, is clear. They openly tried to overshadow the election process by agreeing to such illegal actions with their premeditated collaboratorsstated an article by Faktyoxla Lab regarding Mikroskop Media’s coverage.
Additionally, accusations of being provocateurs were directed at Toplum TV, BBC Azeri, and Voice of America’s Baku office.
Opinions on the election results
The Musavat Party demanded the annulment of the election results.
The joint observation mission from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) stated that the election took place in a restrictive environment. According to the statement of preliminary findings and conclusions of the joint observation mission, the election lacked genuine pluralism and critical voices were continuously stifled.