Azerbaijan’s Aliyev anticipated to safe fifth time period | EUROtoday

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Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is predicted to safe a fifth consecutive time period in presidential elections on February 7. Anita Khachaturova, a specialist in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, talks to FRANCE 24 about what’s at stake.

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Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who has been on the helm of the nation for greater than 20 years after succeeding his father, is standing for re-election within the February 7 presidential election. The 62-year-old autocrat is hoping to safe a fifth consecutive time period as chief of this small, hydrocarbon-rich Caucasus nation. It would be his second seven-year time period for the reason that nation’s 2016 constitutional reform, which prolonged the presidential time period from 5 to seven years.

President Aliyev secured 86 % of the vote within the 2018 elections that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe described as missing in “genuine competition” and happening in a “restrictive political environment”.

Aliyev printed a decree in December 2023 asserting that he was bringing the 2025 elections ahead to February 7, 2024.

FRANCE 24 takes a have a look at the stakes of this snap presidential election with Anita Khachaturova, a researcher on the Free University of Brussels specialising in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations.

FRANCE 24: Has Aliyev turn into extra highly effective since the final elections?

Anita Khachaturova: Since the 2018 election, there was the warfare in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan has taken over your entire territory, which had been a supply of dispute with Armenia for the reason that late Eighties. Part of the territory had already been taken over in 2020. The relaxation was taken over just a few months in the past in September 2023, forcing the Armenians residing there to depart in what quantities to ethnic cleaning.

This is a key, symbolic victory for President Aliyev, who touts himself as the person who has restored dignity to the Azerbaijani individuals and washed away the affront of humiliation and occupation inflicted on Azerbaijan by the Armenians. The victory in Nagorno-Karabakh has given new legitimacy to the president’s place within the eyes of the Azerbaijani individuals, who view him as a providential determine who has restored Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.

However, it is very important perceive the actual nature of Azerbaijan’s political system when discussing the February elections. Azerbaijan is a extremely repressive autocracy. The NGO Freedom House (which works to defend human rights and promote democratic change) ranks Azerbaijan among the many worst states by way of political rights and freedoms. The elections in Azerbaijan are usually not like these noticed in democratic international locations, European or in any other case. They are merely a plebiscite in favour of the president giving him a form of political legitimacy on the worldwide scene, however little or no democratic legitimacy.

Aliyev inherited energy in 2003 after his father died. The latter had ruled the nation since 1993 and was head of the KGB in Soviet Azerbaijan within the Nineteen Sixties. As such, this household has dominated the nation virtually with out interruption for the reason that late Nineteen Sixties. It operates as a clan system, working the nation like a enterprise. All the nation’s assets are monopolised by this household and people near it.

Why have the presidential elections been introduced ahead to February?

On the energy of the victory in Nagorno-Karabakh – a victory that President Aliyev personally claims – these early elections could also be perceived, from the skin, as a want to consolidate his standard assist, which he seemingly does have. (The warfare in Nagorno-Karabakh is just not met with a lot opposition, even from among the many regime’s critics, except a handful of pro-peace activists who’re extraordinarily marginalised.) But this reputation is troublesome to evaluate or estimate independently, given the political context in Azerbaijan.

Aliyev has maintained a gentle coverage of constructing threats and annexationist statements towards Armenia, and his re-election may additionally serve to assist future navy campaigns towards Armenian sovereignty. It can be accompanied by the acute repression of the few unbiased journalists and activists who, by elevating societal issues within the nation, are seen as tarnishing the victory in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Read extraForbidden Stories continues work of imprisoned Azerbaijani journalists

Is there any opposition to the presidential candidate on this election?

There isn’t any opposition, no freedom of the press and even political opponents, as such. The presidential marketing campaign is a dramatisation. We noticed this lately, for instance, in the course of the debates held on Azerbaijani tv, which have been mocked by the inhabitants, significantly on social media.

This election has little or no credibility. The final result of the vote is all however sure. We know that Aliyev can be re-elected.

This article has been translated from the unique in French.