The campaign in the referendum has no alternative

Today has been launched agitation campaign in the referendum on constitutional amendments. According to the Electoral Code, only  22 days will be given for agitation. It will end on September 25 at 8:00 – the day before the vote.

The campaign officially involved three pro-government campaign groups registered by the CEC:

“Yeni Azerbaijan”  has been created by the ruling party; “Civil Society” – created by the Confederation of Trade Unions of Azerbaijan and 25 pro-government NGOs, and “The City” – established by municipal councils. They all act in support of the amendments to the Constitution.

Campaign groups were entitled to free air time on public television and radio, as well as the ability to publish their free campaign materials in public newspapers “Azerbaijan”, “Xalq”, “Republic” and “Baku Worker”.

In addition, campaign groups will be able to hold direct meetings with voters in the open field and indoor. For this purpose throughout the country have  been  allocated for 128 public and private places. Another 8 indoor and outdoor spaces are reserved in Nakhchivan.

Agitation groups can place their materials in the press and on television, and on a fee basis. On public television paid 1 second campaign in prime time from 18.40 at 20.20 will be 50 manat (1 minute – 3 thousand manat or $ 1,800.) It should be noted that the campaign takes place in an atmosphere of inevitability.

The only opposition agitation group  is “Republic”, created by “Musavat” party, the CEC did not register under the pretext of “deficiencies”.

Agitation group Movement “Republican Alternative” appeared with the signature campaign, after having been arrested by the executive secretary of the organization Natig Jafarli and two activists envoys REAL in a referendum.

The leading opposition force – the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) initially refused to participate in the referendum, saying “the lack of conditions for the free expression of will” and called for an active struggle against peaceful anti-amendment to the Constitution. Classic Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (CPFPA) urged citizens to boycott the vote.

Opponents to the amendments believe that innovation will lead to the establishment of authoritarianism in Azerbaijan.

Draft amendments of 29 points were  initiated by the President of Azerbaijan. They suggest increasing the term of office of the head of state from 5 to 7 years old, give him the right to dissolve the parliament, establish the posts of vice-presidents and others.

The amendments also mean that in case of incapacity of the president, his powers are transferred to the first vice-president.

In addition, it is proposed to abolish the minimum age limit for a presidential candidate (now 35 years), and provide the head of state the right to declare a special election of the president.

In addition, the amendments allow for cases of restrictions of freedom of assembly, property rights and the deprivation of nationality.

The amendments have not been submitted previously to the expertise of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.