Azerbaijan; Establishment of Milli Mejlis

The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and its Parliament first appeared in history during a highly challenging and convoluted time. The elected members of the Transcaucasian State Duma made up the special governing body for Transcaucasia, which was established following the Russian Revolution of February 1917.


Transcaucasian Commissariat: 

In November, the Transcaucasian Commissariat was founded. On February 14, 1918, a group of Transcaucasian delegates who had been elected to the Russian Constituent Assembly but were unable to participate in its proceedings due to the Bolshevik takeover in October met in Tiflis. They established the Transcaucasian Sejm there as the ruling body over Transcaucasia.

A day after the collapse of the Transcaucasian Sejm, namely, on 27 May, the 44 Muslim Sejm delegates assembled in Tiflis to incept the first Azerbaijani government. Having come to the decision to assume control of the country, they declare themselves the National Council of Azerbaijan, and M. A. Rasulzade is elected its chairman.

National Council of Azerbaijan: 

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.

First Meeting: 

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 people 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.

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Representation in National Council: 

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.

Appointment of Secretary General: 

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 program and make-up on 26 December. The program is approved, and the new Government is given a vote of confidence.

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Members of Parliament: 

The Parliament of Azerbaijan was building its work along with the organizational 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.

The Parliament of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic held 145 sessions in that period; the first one was on 7 December 1918 and the last was 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 of 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 its long and hard efforts, had only been able to remain independent for 23 months.

Legislative body: 

According to the newly enacted Constitution, Azerbaijan’s legislative body was reorganized and given the name Supreme Council of the Republic. But this wasn’t just a format change; it was now decided “upstairs” who the MPs would be, who would be chosen, and how many factory workers, cooperative farmers, public servants, women, young people, and independents there would need to be in the parliament, and so on.

On June 24, 1938, 310 MPs were directly elected to the Azerbaijan SSR’s first-convocation Supreme Council; of these, 88 were communal farmers and 115 were members of the intelligentsia and public services, including 72 women.


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 afterward did not allow it to be carried out.

Heydar Aliyev as a secretary general: 

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 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 labor codes, the Code of Administrative Offences, the Family Code and the Marriage Code.

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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.

Constitutional Act: 

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 canceled 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 a 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.

This article is written by Mr. Musawar Hameed Tanoli, who graduated in International Relations from the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad. He is interested in foreign policy, diplomatic relations, and political and parliamentary cooperation, especially between Pakistan and Azerbaijan. His focus is on the Eurasian region specifically on Azerbaijan. He is also the founding president of the Youth Diplomacy Forum. His recent research was about Karabakh under Russian Peacekeeping Forces. 

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