Members of the local election commission count ballots at the polling station after early parliamentary elections in Baku.9 февраль 2020

Members of the local election commission count ballots at the polling station after early parliamentary elections in Baku.9 февраль 2020

For some time now, whispers of imminent parliamentary elections have circulated throughout Azerbaijan's political sphere. The last parliamentary elections, held in February 2020, saw the dissolution of parliament nearly a year ahead of schedule, ostensibly in the name of reforms. With the current parliamentary term set to expire at the onset of the following year, speculation is rife about the possibility of an early electoral showdown.

The Chairman of the political committee of the Republican Alternative (REAL) party, Ilgar Mammadov, recently stirred the political pot by extending congratulations to President Ilham Aliyev on his electoral victory, while also alluding to forthcoming parliamentary elections. He remarked, "I congratulate you and wish that our free and equal competition with the party headed by you in the parliamentary elections, which will be devoted to the future of our country in a few months, will bring a new quality to democracy in Azerbaijan."

In response to these murmurs, a member of the governing council of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (PEA), MP Hikmet Babaoglu, acknowledged in an interview with Turan the possibility of holding parliamentary elections this year. He stressed the constitutional mandate prescribing to schedule parliamentary elections for the first Sunday in November in the absence of any extraordinary circumstances or force majeure.

Arif Hajili, the head of the Musavat party, supported similar sentiments in an interview with Azadlig Radio, saying that holding parliamentary elections this year is a constitutional imperative. He hinted at the possibility of holding early elections in the summer months, stressing the constitutional requirement to observe the timing of the elections.

Natig Jafarli, a member of the political committee of the REAL party, underscored the constitutional nuances governing parliamentary elections. He noted that while some may argue for a 2025 election based on the timing of the previous polls, the 2020 elections were early elections, thus potentially paving the way for an earlier electoral cycle.

Jafarli further speculated on the likelihood of early elections this year, citing logistical challenges posed by the UN Climate Change Conference (COP29) scheduled for November. He suggested that the Azerbaijani government may seek to avoid concurrent major events to mitigate potential external interference, particularly amid ongoing economic challenges and the impending withdrawal of the Russian army from Azerbaijan.

Against this backdrop, anticipation also brews over municipal elections slated for this year, with a notable increase in election spending allocated in the country's budget. As conjecture mounts and political maneuvering intensifies, Azerbaijan finds itself at a pivotal juncture, poised on the cusp of potentially transformative electoral contests that could shape the nation's trajectory in the years to come.

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