HISTORY OF PARLIAMENT
The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and its Parliament came to the scene in a very difficult and complicated historical period. The special governing committee for the Transcaucasia made of the elected members of the Transcaucasian State Duma was formed after the February 1917 revolution in Russia. The Transcaucasian Commissariat was established in November. Those Transcaucasian delegates who had been elected to the Russian Constituent Assembly but could not join its proceedings after the Bolshevik coup of October were gathered in Tiflis on 14 February 1918. There, they founded the Transcaucasian Sejm as the supreme power in the Transcaucasia.
A day after the collapse of the Transcaucasian Sejm, namely, on 27 May, the 44 Muslim Sejm delegates are assembled in Tiflis to incept the first Azerbaijani government. Having come to the decision to assume the control of the country, they declare themselves the National Council of Azerbaijan and M. A. Rasulzade is elected its chairman.
The National Council of Azerbaijan passes the Declaration of Independence of Azerbaijan at a meeting chaired by Hasan bey Agayev on 28 May 1918.
The National Council and the Government moved from Tbilisi to Ganja on 16 June 1918.
The Caucasian Islamic Army liberated Baku after bitter fighting on 15 September 1918 and the F.Kh.Khoyski government moved in from Ganja as soon as on the 17th. Baku was declared the capital of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The Azerbaijan National Council that stopped its work in Ganja on 17 June 1918 resumed it on 16 November that year. At the first meeting then, the National Council accepted the job of convening the Constituent Assembly upon the request of F.Kh.Khoyski. It was said at the meeting of the National Council chaired by M. A. Rasulzade on 19 November that the National Council of Azerbaijan had to represent all the peoples living in the territory of the country.
Thus, it is decided to form a Parliament of Azerbaijan that was to consist of 120 members going by 1 delegate per 24,000 people — 80 Muslims, 21 Armenians, 10 Russians, 1 German and 1 Jew. The law that the National Council passed in this connection stipulated that all the ethnic minority representatives would be included. As regards the Muslims, 44 members of the National Council elected by popular vote would join the new Parliament as its members while more people would be brought in to occupy the remaining 36 seats. The law also determined the number of additional delegates per town and district.
The proclamation ‘To the Whole of the Population of Azerbaijan!’ was issued on 29 November 1918 on behalf of the National Council of Azerbaijan and assigned by its Chairman M.A.Rasulzade.
The first sitting of the first parliament in the Muslim East was opened at the former H Z Taghiyev School for Girls in Nikolayev Street (Istiglaliyat nowadays) on 7 December 1918. The National Council Chairman M. A. Rasulzade who had opened the Parliament delivered a great congratulatory speech, too.
A Topchubashev was elected Chairman of the Parliament and Hasanbey Agayev his First Deputy.
Besides, they elected the 3-strong Secretariat of the Parliament with Mehdi bey Hajinsky elected as the Secretary-General.
Then, the Provisional Government Chairman F. Khoyski tables a performance report and petitions to the Parliament for the resignation of the Government.
The Government accepts the resignation of the Khoyski Government — only to commission him to form a new one. F. Khoyski reports in the Parliament on the government programme and make-up on 26 December. The programme is approved, and the new Government is given a vote of confidence.
The Parliament of Azerbaijan was building its work along with the organisational principles inherent in democratic republics from the very day of inception. The Parliament had 96 members representing 11 various party factions and groups as soon as the end of 1919.
All the party fractions and groups declared their activity programmes. All those declarations had as their shared goals the preservation of the independence and territorial integrity, and the national as well as political rights of the young Azerbaijan Republic, creation and reinforcement of friendly ties of the Azerbaijani people and government with other nations and states, in particular, with the neighbouring states and building up a legal democratic state order, implementing extensive social reforms and building a strong army capable of protecting the country.
Though only active for 17 months, the Parliament of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was able to prove its viability and a high working capacity. It demonstrated that, indeed, the people of Azerbaijan had graduated to the level of parliamentary governance. The Azerbaijan Republic was the sole parliamentary republic in the Muslim East at that time.
The Parliament of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic held 145 sessions in that period; the first one was on 7 December 1918 and the last on 27 April 1920.
More than 270 draft laws were tabled in the Parliament of the Azerbaijan Republic and approximately 230 of them were passed whilst the Parliament remained active.
The Parliament’s work was regulated by ‘the admonishment (instruction) of the Parliament of Azerbaijan’, which played the immediate role as its Charter.
There were 11 commissions in Parliament.
Azerbaijan discontinued its work done to strengthen the independent state with the occupation of 28 April 1920. Azerbaijan, a country that had gained actual international recognition as a result of the long and hard efforts, had only been able to remain independent for 23 months.
The Parliament of the ADR decided ‘to transfer the power to the Bolsheviks’ after the intense deliberations on the ultimatum (demand) of the Central Committee of the AC (b) P and the Transcaucasian Regional Committee of the RC (b) P whilst besieged by the 11th Red Army of Russia and facing the imminent military threat from the Russian Caspian Fleet. The resulting decision put a number of conditions to the Bolsheviks who had seized the power, such as preservation of the independence, the provisional nature of the government established by the Bolsheviks, and shaping of the future governance form of Azerbaijan by a new parliament that would be assembled in the nearest future.
Though the Azerbaijan SSR had formal independence, Soviet Russia considered the country as its colony from day one.
The political independence of Azerbaijan was completely formal in nature already. They started organizing a representative governance system to create the illusion that the power belonged to the people. The All-Azerbaijan Congresses of Soviets was held in the following sequence during 1921-1937:
I All-Azerbaijan Congress of Soviets — 6-19 May 1921;
II All-Azerbaijan Congress of Soviets — 28 April-03 May 1922;
III All-Azerbaijan Congress of Soviets — 25 November-01 December 1923;
IV All-Azerbaijan Congress of Soviets — 10-16 March 1925;
V All-Azerbaijan Congress of Soviets — 18 March 1927;
VI All-Azerbaijan Congress of Soviets — 1-9 April 1929;
VII All-Azerbaijan Congress of Soviets — 19-25 January 1931;
VIII All-Azerbaijan Congress of Soviets — 11-17 January 1935;
IX All-Azerbaijan (extraordinary) Congress of Soviets — 17 November 1936-; 10-14 March 1937
However, the Bolsheviks began to work towards the abolition of the remaining independence of Azerbaijan in the name of achieving their political goals. On December 10-13, 1922, 175 deputies from Azerbaijan took part in the first congress of the Caucasian Soviets. At this Congress, the Central Executive Committee of the Caucasus (150 members and 50 candidates) was elected.
The decision incepting the USSR and made at the 1st All-Union Congress of Soviets in Moscow on 30 December 1992 put an end to the independence of Azerbaijan. In March 1927, the 5th All-Azerbaijani Congress of Soviets adopted the II constitution of the Azerbaijan SSR, developed on the example of the Russian constitution. So far, the changes implemented in the political and economic structure of the Republic by violent methods have been enshrined in the Constitution. In 1937, by the adoption of the new Constitution of the Azerbaijan SSR at the IX extraordinary Soviet Congress, the legislative body entered a new stage.
The legislative body of Azerbaijan was reformatted in accordance with the newly adopted Constitution in that it was made the Supreme Council of the Republic. But that was not merely a format change: rather, it was now determined ‘upstairs’ who the MPs were going to be, who was to be elected, how many factory workers, collective farmers, public servants, women, youth and independents had to be in the parliament and so forth. Of the 310 MPs elected directly to the first-convocation Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR on 24 June 1938, 88 were collective farmers and 115 intelligentsia and public services — with 72 of those women. The Supreme Council could not function effectively while the Communist Party had taken hold of all the state functions and took a hostile stance towards any political initiative.
That was why the Azerbaijanis elected to the representative legislative bodies could not raise their voices in 1937-1938 and in the years that followed against the destruction of the academic, cultural and political elites of the Republic, the blow to the national gene pool and the transfer of more and more lands to Armenia. On the contrary, the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR approved, acting under the pressure applied from on high, on 7 May 1938 a protocol on giving Armenia 2,000 hectares of land in the Lachin, Gubadli, Kalbajar and Gazakh provinces. Still, the ordinary people and the rural communities resisted such a decision and did not let go of their lands. On 7 May 1960, the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR reaffirmed that notorious decision of 7 May 1938 but Mr Heydar Aliyev who rose to power shortly afterwards did not allow it to be carried out.
Heydar Aliyev, once elected the First Secretary of the CC of the CP of Azerbaijan, began the steps to use what limited opportunities were there for the good of the people and to promote the national and spiritual reawakening without attracting attention to his actions.
The legal codes were amended and expanded in the 1970s and the early 1980s. Azerbaijan passed the laws on the judicial system, health care, state notary services, public education, protection of the monuments of history and culture, the Council of Ministers and the Soviets of People’s Deputies as well as the land and labour codes, the Code of Administrative Offences, the Family Code and the Marriage Code.
The then administration and parliament of Azerbaijan manifested the unpardonable passivity and indifference in the face of the Armenian separatism rearing its head in the country as well as of the actual aggression from Armenia on the brink of the collapse of the USSR in 1988.
Heydar Aliyev who had returned to Nakhchivan to be by the nation’s side in those hard days was elected a member of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Supreme Council of the Nakhchivan AR. That started a new period in Heydar Aliyev’s work in the Azerbaijani statehood and in the struggle for independence. On October 18, 1991, with the adoption of the Constitutional Act on the restoration of state independence in the parliament, Azerbaijan became independent. As a result of a deal between the authorities and the opposition, the Supreme Majlis of Azerbaijan passed the authority to the National Majlis consisting of 50 of its own members. The Parliament cancelled the procedure whereby the chairman of the Parliament of the Nakhchivan AR was also deputy chairman of the Parliament of Azerbaijan; besides, they introduced an age limit for the presidency and so on. All those undemocratic moves were directed against Heydar Aliyev personally: he had been elected chairman of the Supreme Majlis of the Nakhchivan AR and commanded great respect from the people. They were trying to curb the political activism of the great leader in that manner. The nation that had grown of political instability, anarchy and coups called upon its outstanding son, the chairman of the Supreme Majlis of the Nakhchivan AR Heydar Aliyev, to come back to power. Helpless in the face of the steepening crisis, the near brush with a civil war and the aggression from Armenia, the leaders of the Republic who had also fallen hostage to the situation of their own making had to join their voices in the demand of the Azerbaijani people, too. That was already the independent Parliament of Azerbaijan serving the national interests.
The first convocation elected on November 12, 1995, was the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 1995-2000.
The second convocation elected on November 5, 2000, was the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2000-2005.
The third convocation elected on November 6, 2005, was held in 2005-2010 by the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The fourth convocation elected on November 7, 2010, was held in the period of 2010-2015 by the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The fifth convocation, elected on November 1, 2015, is currently functioning at the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan.