“Killer Soviet Tanks Gave Way to Democratic Elections”


Baku, Azerbaijan: Under Russian Empire soldiers and then Bolshevik (Red) Communist troops between 1805 and 1991, political decisions for the Caucasus region were made in Moscow or St. Petersburg and enforced by bayonets. Before Russians, Persians dominated most of the region.
No one was allowed to vote for their governance.
The Communist course of governing by force in the Caucasus region changed much in the 30 years since the Soviet version of Empire collapsed. Baku and freedom-seeking Azerbaijanis tired of domination by Moscow led the way despite being sandwiched between Iran and Russia.
Baku is the historical center of oil production in the Russian and Soviet Empires. Prior to gushing Texas oil wells in 1901 and Mexican wells in 1916, Baku led the world in oil production. Baku oil saved the Soviet Union from annihilation by Adolf Hitler.
Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev ordered his 26,000 Soviet troops and tanks to attack Baku and its freedom-seeking Azerbaijanis from five directions the night of January 20, 1990. 147 Azerbaijanis were killed by the Soviet troops and tanks that night, 744 injured and 400 arrested. The clock started ticking that night on Gorbachev’s reign of terror, on the entire Soviet Empire and began the emergence of the American democracy as the most powerful country in the world led by democratically elected people.
From that night came today’s independence of Azerbaijan. Today, February 9, independent Azerbaijan held parliamentary elections for 125 seats. Up to 1400 candidates officially ran for the seats of the “Milli Majlis”, or National Assembly.
A record slate of 1400 candidates wasn’t the only record set, over 1600 candidates originally filed with 200 of them dropped for various reasons like residency, etc.; 22.5 percent of the 1400, 315 candidates were women; 315 women candidates for the 125 seats in a 95 percent Muslim nation. Wow! Yes, Wow! Election night preliminary vote counting indicates 22 or more women candidates have succeeded in winning seats increasing the roster of the existing parliament by more than 21 that held office until this election (16.8 percent).
Observing the election were representatives of Azerbaijani political parties including opposition parties with differing platforms than that of the existing political majority. Joining the 78,000 domestic poll watchers were 900 international observers (from 58 countries and 59 organizations), like this writer from the Western democracies, OSCE (The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, of which the U.S is a leader), the European Union, the United Nations, etc.
The facts speak for themselves: there are 5.2 million registered Azerbaijani voters who had 5,426 voting places to vote in using 5.387 million printed ballots available to vote with. Based on historical turn-outs, somewhere between 30 percent and forty five percent of the 5.2 million registered voters were expected to vote. As polls closed, an estimated (47.81%) voted.
Preliminary counts by exit polls indicate that 22 women were elected setting a new record of women in the Parliament. In fact, without doubt that is probably a record for all Muslim countries and probably better than most Western democracies, except for the U.S. which set its own record in the 2018 Congressional elections with 131 women winning seats in the 535-seat U.S. Congress (30.11 percent).
Additionally, at least 40 new members of parliament have been elected with a few more when all ballots are counted.
Azerbaijan made history in 1919 when the fledgling two-year-long Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan allowed women to vote making it the first-ever Muslim nation to give the right to vote and stand for election to women; in fact, women could vote nationally in Azerbaijan before women were allowed to vote in American national elections. Wyoming Territory allowed women to vote in 1879. It took a history-making American constitutional amendment to allow women the national vote in 1920 one hundred years ago, a year after Azerbaijan did it. The farsighted Azerbaijanis of 1918 that allowed women to vote are now joined by farsighted 2020 Azerbajainis that today set a record of successful women parliamentary candidates in the 29-year-old free nation born twice in a hundred years.
According to Exit Polls 22 (possibly more) women were elected to 5 year terms of the Parliament as were 40 new faces, newer and younger. WOW!