Campaigning under the slogan "Change the future with your voice", Musavat, ALDE Party member party in Azerbaijan, will field candidates in the early parliamentary elections on Sunday 9 February but already faces challenges in the campaign.
Parties with candidates in 61 or more constituencies are entitled to free airtime on national TV, but despite attempts and appeals to register additional candidates, Musavat succeeded in registering candidates in just 60 constituencies. The party believes that the number of districts where the candidates from Musavat were registered was deliberately limited so that the party could not gain access to the national television channel.
“We will have candidates in 60 constituencies that include about 3 million voters," party leader Arif Hajili said. “I am sure that if more democratic elections are held in the constituencies where Musavat candidates are, our candidates will win.”
He also signalled the party’s willingness to participate in any pre-election debate, but the request has not yet been granted: “Musavat Party is ready to debate with ruling party. Musavat is the political force with the most candidates after the NAP [New Azerbaijan Party, the ruling party led by Ilham Aliyev]. The main competition in the elections will be between Musavat and the NAP.”
Musavat will focus their campaign now on social media as they are unable to hold meetings in open and closed events. You can follow their campaign via Facebook.
Mr Hacili added that Musavat is the only opposition party participating in the elections as a political party: “We will cooperate with both opposition blocks. Candidates from that bloc can be protected from those areas where Musavat is not a candidate.”
Musavat stands for equal opportunities in all fields and calls for free and fair elections nationwide, and in its election manifesto outlined its main priorities as the preservation of the country's independence, territorial integrity, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of conscience, and the wellbeing of the Azeri people.
Musavat and other Azeri opposition parties and international organisations including the OSCE have called the last parliamentary elections in 2015 a non-democratic election saying that it did not meet international standards.
The National Assembly of Azerbaijan has 125 elected members, elected through first-past-the-post system. In the last elections of 2015, the ruling party NAP won 47% of the vote and won 69 of the 125 seats. Musavat currently have no members of parliament as they did not take part in 2015 citing massive violations in the pre-election period.