(By Special Correspondent in Baku, Azerbaijan) : –
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s ruling party celebrated Monday a win in snap parliamentary elections. Counting showed the New Azerbaijan Party with 65 seats in the 125-member parliament after 87% of electoral precincts declared results in the first-past-the-post ballot, said Central Election Commission chief Mazahir Panahov.
A host of small parties and independents took the rest of the seats. More than 5.3 million people were eligible to vote, and turnout stood at 47.8%, election officials said.
The single-chamber parliament is elected every five years through voting for individual candidates in electoral districts.
On Sunday night, the country’s vice prime minister and new Azerbaijan executive secretary, Ali Ahmedov, congratulated his party on “yet another great victory” after exit polls put it on a course to win a majority of seats.
“We are grateful to those who have voted in support of our president’s policies,” Ahmedov told journalists.
Announcing the decision to hold snap polls, Aliyev criticized the pace of economic reforms and said he wanted to clear out government officials who had reached pensionable age. Sunday’s election pit veteran lawmakers against young, Western-educated candidates from the same ruling party in an effort to overhaul the legislature with more able technocrats.
A shake-up of the governing elite is not expected to bring any change in foreign policy. Azerbaijan is not aligned with any big regional grouping such as the European Union or the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, and its foreign policy is balanced between Russia, the West and Iran.