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The Azerbaijani opposition collapses again

The systemic crisis of the classic Azerbaijani opposition was confirmed again in early 2014. The opposition is united in the National Council, a political organization which was hastily established ahead of the presidential elections by two opposition parties – the People’s Front and Musavat. When the composition of the National Council was announced on May 28th, 2013, it became clear that the alliance was formed to fulfill one goal only – to "overthrow” the current authorities at the upcoming presidential elections. At the same time, the National Council was beneficial for the authorities, as it was alibi against accusations of "the lack of options” at the elections; international organizations accused the authorities of that in 2008. The National Council appeared to be disparate; it welcomed liberals and Islamists, veterans and the former pro-governmental politicians. It predetermined fragility of the political alliance. The ruling team realized it clearly and didn’t prevent the opposition from holding demonstrations and meetings.

Confirmation of the instability of the new political structure wasn’t long in coming. Even ahead of the presidential elections, the leader of Islamists, Movsum Samedov, declared his withdrawal from the alliance in July; the leader of Liberals, Lala Shovket, did likewise in September. The former prime minister, Rasul Guliyev, who lives in the USA, dissolved his party, Open Society, and left the organization after the elections. However, Musavat and the People’s Front together with smaller political movements and organizations continued to be consolidated.

The National Council lost the presidential elections 2013; its candidate Professor of History Jamil Gasanly managed to gain only 5.53% of votes. Formally the opposition achieved one of its old goals – actual consolidation of leading opposition political forces of the country, which presented a united candidate at the elections, took place; the last time it happened was in 1998. However, effectiveness of the alliance was zero. Despite fierce statements by the opposition that the elections were falsified and in fact Jamil Gasanly was elected the president, the postelection situation cleared the air. The National Council failed to mobilize wide layers of the population for fighting against the current authorities and took at most 3-5 thousand people to demonstrations against falsifications of the elections. The population’s credibility to the opposition was so low that the National Council couldn’t use social tension which appeared after an increase of fuel prices. Finally, Musavat gave up as well and stated on January 7th that it left the National Council.

Apparently, the National Council became a spent force because it didn’t fulfill either its direct goal of defeating the current authorities at the presidential elections or the task on intensification of the protest electorate’s mobility. A nonprofessional attitude to the work was confirmed by choosing scriptwriter Rustam Ibragimbekov a united candidate; he didn’t take part in the elections because of his foreign citizenship.

Dissolution of the National Council is a logical result of its activity which didn’t meet expectations of the political forces which participated in the alliance. The main problem of the traditional opposition is not in a form of cooperation, but in its weak and outdate composition, as its politicians are not able to create new ideas and approaches which would attract voters. Despite the fact that the opposition formally places a priority on working with young people, there are no new young people in boards of parties – the same people are heading People’s Front and Musavat for decades. Actually, real "youth policy” is provided by Islamist organizations which are financed from abroad; as the result more and more young people politically socialize not in secular parties, but in mosques and at underground meetings of radical Islamists.


Vestnik Kavkaza


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