The formation of the system of socio-political relations in democratic countries, the emergence of democratic habits, and political and ideological enlightenment are carried out mainly through parties. Parties represent the political rights and interests of the people.

Parties have come a long way from ancient Greece to medieval Europe, from the Renaissance of the 18th century to the present day. As one of the main institutions of civil society and the state of law, it directly performs the function of organizing and exercising state power.

It is difficult to talk about the role of political parties as democratic institutions in societies without political pluralism. A multi-party political system leads to an increase in political thinking in a democratic society and a weakening in anti-democratic regimes imitated by a whole raft of parties. One of the factors weakening the political participation of citizens is the excessive number of "parties".

In societies where democratic outlook and traditions are weak and free elections are not held, people find it difficult to understand the purpose of political parties. Parties cannot be useful to citizens, and citizens cannot be useful to parties.

How many parties are there in Azerbaijan, and who and what do they serve?

During the 31 years of independence, 66 political parties have been officially registered in the country. According to the latest information on the website of the Central Election Commission (CEC) on the Financial Report of the parties for 2021, 58 parties are currently officially registered. Although not officially registered, there are more parties declaring their existence. For a country with 5.3 million voters, having so many parties does not mobilize society around socio-political and national ideas; on the contrary, it divides them into smaller groups.

After looking at some statistics on parties, we can more clearly analyze the situation with political parties. The highest result for the official state registration of political parties in the country coincides with the one-year rule of Elchibey. During the 10 months from July 1992 to May 1993, 19 parties were officially registered.

It should be noted that at that time, there was a very serious war in the country. At a time when thousands of young people were killed, the formation of so many parties drew public attention to political competition rather than war. The large number of parties registered in the first years of independence did not lead to political pluralism in society, but to chaos.

During the 10-year rule of H. Aliyev, 25 parties were registered, and during the 18-year rule of I. Aliyev, 22 parties have been registered. In 1993-1995, two parties were dissolved by the decision of the Supreme Court, and six parties decided to join the New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) at the VII Congress on March 5, 2021.

Let's look at three stages of the registration of parties. In 1992-1999 (7 ​​years), 38 parties were registered in the country, in 2000-2020 (20 years), 19 parties were registered, and most recently in 2020-2021, 9 parties were registered. As in 1992-93, there has been an excessive increase in the registration of parties over the past two years.

It should be noted that 10 parties were registered in the first term of President Ilham Aliyev (2003-2008), 3 parties in the second term (2008-2013), and no party in the third term (2013-2018). However, since 2018, i.e. in the fourth term, 9 parties have been registered.

A whole raft of parties now leads to neither political pluralism nor political activism. At the same time, there is no possibility of creating chaos. Contradictory as it may seem, in an apolitical environment, the excessive number of parties do not serve the democratic process. People's non-serious attitude to parties is strengthening, and the tendency to political activity is decreasing. Citizens' expectations of the parties are falling to the level of household problems.

Can a whole raft of parties in the parliament be considered an indicator of democratic development?

Representation of parties mandated by the government in anti-democratic elections with no social base in the parliament imitates a multi-party system. With the exception of 2 out of 11 parties, the political history of the other 9 parties is connected with opposition to Aliyev's government. The government is trying to lower the political prestige of the opposition camp by giving mandates to those who break away from real opposition parties and form new ones.

If we look at the current parliamentary representation of the parties, only 5 of the 38 parties registered in 1992-1999 are represented in the Milli Majlis (Parliament). 6 of the 11 parties represented in the parliament were registered during Aliyev's rule. The current parliament includes 6 party leaders whose political past is related to the Popular Front of Azerbaijan. Apart from the YAP, only one party (Ana Vətən Partiyası) that supported Heydar Aliyev's political course in 1993 has a mandate in the Milli Majlis.

In order to finance the activities of political parties represented in the current Milli Majlis, in 2021, the budget has officially allocated financial assistance in the amount of 3.8 million manats. It should be noted that this assistance is 6.2 percent more than last year. This means that the government, in addition to the high salaries paid to the deputies of these parties, allocates additional funds for the development of their parties.

It cannot be ruled out that the excessive number of parties, which are not represented in parliament but play a role in imitating the government's "dialogue", also receive unofficial financial support. The fact that these parties are provided with offices and soften their criticism and their approach to the political situation in the country allow us to come to this conclusion.

Even simple observations show that neither the parties represented in parliament nor those involved in the "dialogue" process have a significant influence and popularity in society. Despite all the pressure, the position of real opposition forces in public opinion is still decisive. By spending public funds on these parties, the government does not gain political power but loses its political prestige. In its political existence, it is still largely in need of police batons and strict bans.

How can the current activities of the parties be characterized?

Opposition parties fighting against the anti-democratic system of government in the country are under total pressure. Authorities are filling their agenda with pressure, persecution, and arrests. The problem of political prisoners does not allow them to focus on specific political goals. Real opposition parties are controlled in various ways. There are no new political initiatives from these parties.

The situation of parties open to any cooperation with the government is not good as well. Although they have certain financial advantages, cooperation with the government has no clear level, subject, or outcome. Furthermore, they receive harsh criticism from society.

Even the ruling party itself is not influential in society. We do not see an effective political response to the arguments voiced against the government. The political presence of the ruling party, which claims to have hundreds of thousands of members, is unknown in society. Police and other law enforcement agencies monitor the criminal situation in the country, as well as the political situation.

A lot of positive work has been done in the country in connection with the transition to e-government. Most of the nearly 400 government bodies have official websites. There are also a number of websites with detailed information on relevant areas. Unfortunately, the vast majority of parties that rightly demand transparency from the government do not have their own websites.

Parties should be the most open public institutions to society. In fact, this factor should be among the main demands of the state. When we search the Internet, we see that the vast majority of parties do not have websites, except for a few parties.

In a situation where modern Internet communications are widespread, complete information aside, it is impossible to obtain even superficial information about the existence of parties.

There is no information about the activities of the parties, their platforms, the frequency of information openness, as well as information about the leaders and institutions. Relevant state structures should make clear demands to the parties. The registration of these one-person parties, which do not hold any official meetings during the year and do not meet the requirements of the Law on Political Parties, should be reconsidered.

The experience of large and developed democracies can be used.

In addition to keeping the topic of political parties in mind, we will conduct more in-depth analysis of them and present it to the public.


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Party system

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