The early presidential election in Azerbaijan took place within a restrictive political environment and under laws that curtail fundamental rights and freedoms, which are prerequisites for genuine democratic elections, the OSCE PA International Secretariat said in a statement.
Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev won a fourth consecutive term in a snap election that was boycotted by the main opposition parties. He claimed victory in a televised address, after taking 86% of the vote.
"Against this backdrop and in the absence of pluralism, including in the media, the election lacked genuine competition. Other candidates refrained from directly challenging or criticizing the incumbent, and distinction was not made between his campaign and his official activities, the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement today. At the same time, the authorities were co-operative and international observers were able to operate freely in the pre-election period, and the election administration was well resourced and prepared the election efficiently," the statement said.
"On election day the observers reported widespread disregard for mandatory procedures, a lack of transparency, and numerous serious irregularities, including ballot box stuffing. More than half of the vote counts were assessed negatively, largely due to deliberate falsifications and an obvious disregard for procedures."
The election took place in conditions dominated by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP), which nominated the incumbent president as one of the eight candidates who took part. Some opposition parties boycotted the election, citing a non-competitive environment, while others not participating said the early election date left them with insufficient time to do so meaningfully.