Azerbaijan - Political parties

Nearly three dozen parties are registered, but some opposition parties have been arbitrarily refused registration. Some parties that are deemed explicitly ethnic or religiously based also have been refused registration. Under election legislation passed since Aliyev's accession, a party must have at least 1,000 members to be legally registered. Party membership is forbidden to government officials in agencies of the judiciary, law enforcement, security, border defense, customs, taxation, finance, and the state-run media. Six pro-Aliyev parties participated in the 1995 legislative party list vote, including New Azerbaijan (NAP; formed in November 1992), Azerbaijan Democratic Independence (ADIP; broke off from NIP in late 1993), Motherland (formed in 1990), and the Democratic Entrepreneurs' Party (formed in 1994). Only the NAP gained enough votes to win seats in the party list vote (though these other parties won seats in constituency balloting). Two centrist or opposition parties participated and won seats in the party-list voting: the Azerbaijan Popular Front (APF—formed in 1988) and National Independence Party (NIP; broke off from APF in early 1992). Opposition parties excluded from the party list ballot included Musavat (formed in 1912). All parties are small; NAP is the largest with approximately 100,000 members claimed. NAP, formed by Aliyev, encompasses many of his former Azerbaijani Communist Party (ACP) supporters. The APF was at the forefront of the nationalist and anticommunist movement and its chair, Abulfaz Elchibey, was elected president in 1992. With Aliyev's return to power, APF members and officials have been arrested and harassed. NIP views itself as a moderate nationalist party in "constructive opposition" to Aliyev. Musavat has supported close ties with Turkey and has cooperated on some issues with the APF. The pro-Iranian Islamic Party was stripped of its registration in 1995. Preparing for the 1998 presidential race, in March 1998 46 pro-government political parties and groups formed the Center for Democratic Elections (CDE). Five prominent opposition political leaders and others formed the Movement for Democratic Elections and Electoral Reform (MDEER) in May 1998: Elchibey (the AFP), Isa Gambar (Musavat), Lala Shovkat Hijyeva (Azerbaijan Liberal Party or ALP), former speaker Rasul Guliyev, and Ilyas Ismayilov (Democratic Party of Azerbaijan). The Democratic Party finally achieved registration in early 2000, but co-leader Guliyev remained in forced exile.

Other political parties include the Civil Solidarity Party (CSP), Civic Union Party, Compatriot Party, Justice Party, Liberal Party of Azerbaijan, and the Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (SDP).

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