(Foreign Policy) Over the past few years, authoritarian regimes have come to place an increasingly high premium on the veneer and perceptions of elections, rather than on their substance. Today's savvier, more media-conscious autocrats are taking this approach to a whole new level: they are strategically deploying "zombie monitors," fake monitoring groups that praise obviously flawed elections in an effort to drown out more critical assessments by established monitoring organizations.
This subterfuge was on full view in Azerbaijan's Oct. 9 presidential election, in which sitting President Ilham Aliyev was re-elected with a whopping 85 percent of the vote. His closest competitor, Jamil Hasanli, was credited with 5.5 percent. In what has become the standard in this deeply repressive country, the incumbent authorities pulled out all the stops to ensure that no meaningful competition could take place on election day or during the campaign preceding it. The election monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office of Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights (ODIHR) noted that the election was "undermined by limitations on freedoms of expression, assembly and association," and that "significant problems were observed throughout all stages of election day processes." […]
Read the full article | © Foreign Policy