The Ministry of Justice in Azerbaijan recently completed the registration process for political parties under the new law “On Political Parties.”
The ruling party, New Azerbaijan Party (YAP), was the only one successfully re-registered, according to Tahir Budagov, the first deputy chairman of YAP and head of the party’s Central Office.
“We have already received a positive response from the ministry. We have been re-registered with our 750,000 members,” stated Tahir Budagov, confirming YAP’s registration under the new requirements.
The Ministry’s response to YAP came after it submitted a list of its members in compliance with the new law, which mandates stricter registration procedures for political parties in the country.
Notably, YAP is reported to be the first party to have completed the re-registration process under the updated law, which came into force in December 2022 and was approved by President Ilham Aliyev in January 2023 despite facing internal and external protests.
In contrast, the Ministry of Justice gave negative responses to the Musavat Party and the REAL Party on July 19 and two days prior, respectively. Both opposition parties have been facing challenges with the registration process.
According to Arif Hajili, head of the Musavat Party, the letter from the Ministry contained a list of 5,212 individuals, out of which the information about 2,766 people was found to have inaccuracies. He mentioned that upon contacting 250 people from the list, they denied their membership in the party, and there were also 11 instances of duplicated information.
This decision from the Ministry comes after a similar negative response to the REAL Party on July 17, with only 463 members’ validity acknowledged out of their submission.
The Ministry’s approach of contacting opposition party members to inquire about their political affiliations has garnered mixed reactions on social media and from certain experts, who raise concerns about potential implications and law enforcement issues.
In recent months, more than 30 parties have reportedly left Azerbaijan, including the Independent People’s Party (MXP), Azerbaijan National Democratic Party (AMDP), New Way Party, Azerbaijan Republican Party, Independent Azerbaijan Party, Azerbaijan United Communist Party, Azerbaijan Social Democratic Party (ASDP), Azerbaijan Liberal Democratic Party (ALDP), National Unity Party (MVP), Azerbaijan Social Welfare Party (ASRP), Alliance for Azerbaijan Party (ANAP), Azerbaijan Evolution Party, Unity Party, Aydinlar Party, Communist Party, United Azerbaijan National Union, and Azerbaijan Free Republican Party, among others.
Reports suggest that the withdrawal of these parties may have been inadvertently initiated by the Presidential Administration, with party leaders learning about their release through media outlets closely associated with the government.
As of 2022, there were 59 registered political parties in Azerbaijan.
The new law on political parties includes certain contentious articles, such as the requirement for parties to gather 5,000 members for registration, which has been a subject of objection. As many of the smaller parties had fewer members than the threshold, they could not operate any longer in the country.
The next presidential elections in the country are planned for April 2025.