Home > Voting procedures > AZERBAIJAN - Joint Opinion on the Draft Law on amendments and changes to the Electoral Code adopted by the Council for Democratic Elections and the Venice Commission
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Paragraph 10

A significant set of amendments reduces the amount of time for the official campaign period by more than fifty percent (50%). These amendments were not included in previous drafts discussed with the OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission. The official start of the campaign period in Article 75.2 has been reduced from 60 days to 28 days prior to election day. This means that the equal access provisions to public media will apply only for a few weeks before election day. It also means that any other legal provision which is intended to create equal campaign conditions for registered candidates will only be applicable for a limited time period. While international practice differs in this respect, an abbreviated official campaign period is troublesome when other legal provisions, such as those creating a “level playing field” for campaigning, are tied directly to the official campaign period or when the reduction of the official campaign period negatively impacts the rights of voters. In the case of Azerbaijan these amendments are introduced only a few months before the elections. As noted by the United Nations Human Rights Committee: “[T]he free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens, candidates and elected representatives is essential”.[5] If equal conditions for the communication of information to voters are limited to a few weeks before election day, then the right of voters to receive information is significantly limited. In the context of other amendments (see also paragraphs 11, 16, 34, and 38), the reduction of the official campaign period, cannot be considered as positive.