Ilham Aliyev wins landslide victory in Azerbaijan election
The Azerbaijani election planned for October was brought forward to April 11. It was clear that the incumbent president Ilham Aliyev supported by most citizens would win. Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission claimed that Aliyev received an overwhelming supermajority of the votes, 86.08%, and in this way totally eliminated the opponents.
Overall, total of eight candidates ran in the Azerbaijani election on 19 March: Ilham Aliyev, chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party; Gudrat Hasanguliyev – member of the Parliament of Azerbaijan, chairman of the Whole Azerbaijan Popular Front Party; Araz Alizadeh – member of the Parliament of Azerbaijan, chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan; Faraj Guliyev – member of the Parliament of Azerbaijan, chairman of the National Revival Movement Party; Razi Nurullayev – political analyst, former deputy chairman of Azerbaijani Popular Front Party; Hafiz Hajiyev – chairman of the Modern Equality Party; Zahid Oruc - member of the Parliament of Azerbaijan since 2001, former deputy chairman of Motherland Party; Sardar Jalaloglu - politician, chairman of Azerbaijan Democratic Party. The presidential campaign period lasted three weeks.
The candidates considered Aliev to be a front-runner in the election, so they would not have a chance to win the presidency. Notwithstanding, all of them deemed elections to be important to express the ideas which are vital for the country. Azerbaijan officials estimated 5,309,434 citizens with the right to vote. To conduct elections, 5,426 polling stations alongside 215 temporary polling stations were opened in a total of 125 electoral districts across the country.
One thousand polling stations across the 119 constituencies were equipped with surveillance cameras to monitor elections. During the day, the voting process could be observed online from the website of the Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission (CEC). The election was monitored by 894 international observers (61 organizations, 59 countries) and 58,175 local observers.
Almost all international observers commended the transparency of the voting process and very well administration of the election. David Campbell Bannerman, the member of the European Parliament and chairman of the observation mission of the European Parliament, visited Azerbaijan to monitor situation. "It is curiously enough that the Azerbaijani polling stations look very familiar, very similar to the British ones. Modern technologies are used here, there is strict registration of voters and a group of local observers monitor the election process. Everything takes place as in the UK,” chairman stated, as quoted by Trend news agency.
Eli Nacht, a representative of the International Human Rights Committee in Israel, came to observe the process and said that the presidential election in Azerbaijan was an indicative of success in the democratic development of the country. Ilyas Umakhanov, a representative to the Council of the Federation of the legislative body of state power of the Republic of Dagestan and member of the CIS monitoring mission, said that it was a fourth time when he had been an electoral observer, and noted the improvements in electoral legislation. "Now international experts could not only observe, but also learn how Azerbaijan administers elections,” he said.
Vladimir Putin sincerely congratulated President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on his re-election and highly appreciated the efforts Aliyev has made to further promote strategic partnership between Russia and Azerbaijan. He also hoped to expand the mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas.
Almost all comments given by international observers and state officials were very positive. It seems completely inevitable. Almost all states collaborating with Azerbaijan, except for Armenia, strive to maintain positive relations and avoid any critical comments. Even so, no irregularities were committed during elections.
Ilham Aliyev won over Azerbaijani citizens despite the country’s socio-economic problems and out-migration. Policy of president and his father Heydar Aliyev is believed to have played a vital role in the development of country and its economy since 1990s. The success in foreign policy is also worth mentioning. The status quo in Karabakh conflict didn't fail Aliyev policy. Moreover, he maintained foreign relations with the US, Russia, Iran, Israel, Georgia etc, which did not share the same views as those in Azerbaijan.
More negative comments were given by the international journalists. The Foreign Policy news agency claimed the Azerbaijan’s election to be a "farce” and "not real elections in any sense of the term”. It also stated that the United States should be condemning Ilham Aliyev’s corrupt regime rather than condoning it. In fact, a majority of international news reporters left untouched elections in Azerbaijan mainly because most of them drew widespread attention to the global tension rise caused by provocative Trump's tweets.
The experts stated that it was too much to expect any changes in the country as a whole. Since there was not a competition against the incumbent president, there was no point in expecting both foreign and domestic policies to be changed.
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