On November 5, 2000, Azerbaijan held its second parliamentary election since gaining independence. The Central Election Commission [CEC] reported that turnout was 68.8 percent. In the proportional voting for 25 of the parliaments 125 seats, President Heydar Aliev’s party Yeni [New] Azerbaijan [YAP] came in first, with 62.5 percent. Only three other parties passed the sixpercent threshold: the Azerbaijan Popular Front Reformers, (10.8 percent); the Civic Solidarity Party (6.3 percent); and the Communist Party (6.28 percent). Yeni Azerbaijan, along with nominally independent, pro-presidential candidates, also took most of the 100 seats decided in single-mandate districts, giving Alievs party about 90 percent control of parliament.
The victory of Yeni Azerbaijan was a foregone conclusion. During the registration period, the CEC excluded two opposition parties, Musavat and the Azerbaijan Democratic Party [ADP], for allegedly not having 50,000 valid signatures. International observation missions judged that Azerbaijans elections in 1995 (parliamentary), 1998 (presidential) and 1999 (local) all failed to meet international norms. All Azerbaijani opposition parties have denounced the election as rigged. Most opposition parties, however, refused to take part in the January 7 repeat elections.
After negative judgements by international observers of four elections since 1995, it is fair to say that Azerbaijan has made no real progress in conducting elections that allow voters to determine who governs them. Despite some improvements on January 7, the elections outcome was decided in November through massive falsification, which left government-opposition relations at a low point. At the same time, the opposition is more fractured than ever. Its leaders were unable or unwilling before the November 5 first round to present President Aliev and Yeni Azerbaijan with a united front and party list.