App releases Azerbaijani election results a day early

A troubling development in the expected victory of President Ilham Aliyev comes when new technology confirmed the old guard's win before anyone had voted.

The president casting his vote. TheWorldVideoNews/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Dear governments of perhaps-slightly-less-democratic-than-it-appears regimes: the appearance of democracy is quite important. Just for, you know, appearances sake.

So, even though everyone might have an idea that your free and fair elections are as free as OJ Simpson and as fair as the average January day in the north of England, you have to at least pretend.

This is something that the oil-rich Azerbaijani government might have overlooked. Or, rather, whoever is in charge of its Central Election Commission election mobile app.

For, as The Washington Post reports, the app dutifully pumped out marvelously accurate election results, heralding a stunning victory for current president Ilham Aliyev.

The only slight kink was that the app declared him the overwhelming winner the day before anyone had actually voted. Or should that be "voted?"

I suppose that in the capital, Baku, this might have been seen as a case of Baku to the Future.

When the presidency is handed down from father to son -- as it was in Aliyev's case 10 years ago -- there is often a feeling of deja-Baku.

Even the BBC had offered before the election that he was "The Pre-Determined President."

In 2010, Reporters Without Freedom regarded Azerbaijan as the 152nd country when it came to press freedom.

However, in the case of the mobile app, the Central Elections Commission rushed out information that the results offered by the app were in fact those from 2008.

Again, there was a slight kink to this information. The candidates' names had changed since then. The app somehow managed to present the alleged 2008 results against the names of the 2013 candidates.

I am relieved, at least, that the commission didn't fall back on that hoary western excuse of having been hacked.

So let's assume that somehow the commission's tech people were testing the mobile app and they'd merely juxtaposed the names and numbers on an entirely hypothetical basis. Let's assume that someone might have been predicting the results from the top of their heads.

This would put into context the words of President Aliyev -- reported by Azer News -- after the voting process was complete and he was declared the winner: "The presidential election in Azerbaijan is the triumph of democracy."

 

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