Why did Ilham Aliyev decide to hold early presidential elections in Azerbaijan?

Baku- Azerbaijan is preparing to hold early presidential elections next Wednesday, amid the refusal of opposition parties and forces to participate, as they consider it unrealistic to campaign in just one month and collect 40,000 signatures, and do it before January 7. Should have gone.

The elections are considered to be the first of their kind to be held in the country following the reunification of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, following the lightning war launched by Azerbaijan against Armenian forces in September last year.

According to the head of the Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan, Mazakhir Panakhov, “26 polling stations will be opened in the liberated areas, and up to 20,000 people will exercise their right to vote,” and according to him, these mean “not only” those already in the areas. have returned to the U.S., but also a number of engineers and construction workers who are participating in the restoration of the area.”

extreme popularity

Although current Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's current term – which spans 7 years – expires in April 2025, when presidential elections were due to be held, he announced last December that early elections would be held on the 7th. From this February.

The Central Election Commission of the Republic registered the names of 7 candidates for the highest office in the state, and they are:

  • The current President Ilham Aliyev is from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party.
  • Zahid Oruj (Parliamentary).
  • Fuad Aliyev (independent).
  • Razi Nurulayev from the National Front Party.
  • Fadil Mustafa from “New Azerbaijan Party”.
  • Elshad Musayev from the “Greater Azerbaijan” party.
  • Gudrat Hasan Guliyev from the “Popular Front of Azerbaijan” party.

Aliyev has been President of Azerbaijan since 2003, and in April 2018 he was re-elected for the fourth consecutive time, receiving 86.21% of the vote, while his nearest rival, non-partisan MP Zahid Oruz, received only 3.11% of the vote.

According to the Constitution of Azerbaijan, the President of the Republic is elected for a term of 7 years on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage with free, individual and secret ballot. The President of the State is elected by a majority of half the votes, and if this majority is not achieved in the first round of voting, a second round is held in which two candidates participate. Bus.

In September 2016, a referendum was held in Azerbaijan to add 6 new articles to the country's constitution and make another 23 amendments to the existing articles. As a result of the referendum, the President's term was increased from 5 to 7 years, and he was also given the power to dissolve the “Do Millet” (Parliament). the country's unicameral body), and calling for early presidential elections, as the country previously held a referendum in 2009, which imposed restrictions on a person being re-elected to the presidency more than twice. given.

historical precedent

Nair Aliyev, an expert on Azerbaijani affairs, believes that the decision to hold early elections was taken for several reasons, the most important of which is “the importance of holding elections on all Azerbaijani lands after the restoration of the Karabakh region.” For the first time in the country's history after regaining its independence and territorial integrity, “the territory that was under (Armenian) occupation.

Aliyev told Al Jazeera Net in his speech that “holding early elections on this basis would be an event with historical and political symbolism, which everyone in Azerbaijan knows about, and considers it an important issue.” He says in this. The presence of what he describes as a technical dimension, “since the next elections, if they take place in 2025, will coincide with other elections and electoral campaigns, such as parliamentary elections and local council elections, to be held at the end of 2024.” Will compete with.”

Aliyev concluded: “The current president is an undisputed candidate, and his victory is inevitable because he has achieved a historic mission by restoring Karabakh into the arms of Azerbaijan, and the rest of the candidates realize this.”

Caucasian affairs expert Andrei Arichev also believes that “Aliyev's decision to hold early presidential elections is aimed at confirming the legitimacy of the current government,” adding that “today the president has no serious competitors in Azerbaijan. “

The same expert further added, “The victory in the Karabakh war in 2020 and then Baku extending its full control over the region are personally attributed to Aliyev, and both events are historic for Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus, and therefore held Are going.” The early elections are considered a good background and a good moment “to strengthen Aliyev's authority and extend his presidency for another seven years.”

According to the same spokesperson, “The upcoming elections will first constitute a referendum on support and confidence in the person, and after them, even the most ardent rivals in Azerbaijan will not be able to deny Aliyev's role in uniting the state, and it will be It is impossible to contradict him in the context, and Aliyev is certainly not ready to miss such an opportunity.

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