Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
President Ilham Aliyev consolidated his authoritarian rule with a March 2009 referendum that eliminated presidential term limits. Also during the year, the government increased regulatory restrictions on civil society groups and implemented a ban on foreign radio broadcasts.
International mediators have failed to make progress on negotiations for a final settlement of the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan that has been ruled by ethnic Armenian separatists since the early 1990s. No country or international organization recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh’s self-proclaimed independence.
Azerbaijan is not an electoral democracy. The country’s constitution provides for a strong presidency, and the parliament, the 125-member Milli Majlis, exercises little or no independence from the executive branch. The president and members of parliament serve five-year terms, and a referendum held in March 2009 eliminated presidential term limits. Although the PACE indicated that the vote was “transparent, well organized, and held in a peaceful atmosphere,” it criticized the lack of public debate on the issue in the media.
The numerical ratings and status listed above do not reflect conditions in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is examined in a separate report.