“Elections” in Azerbaijan

It’s been a while since I’ve been active on the posts.  It’s been a crazy busy semester, but, more importantly, there’s been so much Europe-related news recently that I don’t know where to turn my attention half the time!

Until I’m back and focused, you can instead check out this featured post by one of the students in my Russia and Post-Soviet class this semester, describing the state of electoral politics in Azerbaijan.


Azerbaijan’s most recent “democratic election” was held about a year ago on 9 October 2013. Unsurprisingly, incumbent president Ilham Aliyev and his party won by a landslide. I use the word unsurprisingly, well, because it is appropriate. He and his party won with 85% of the popular vote; while his closest competitor secured a measly 5%. Once it officially left the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, Azerbaijan and its leadership’s democratic legitimacy have been routinely questioned by global organizations and western countries.

Azerbaijan seems as if they got off on the wrong foot if they truly want to pursue democracy.

Did you vote today?

Winning by a landslide was not happenstance. Basically, Ilham Aliyev probably would have won presidential re-election even if he didn’t organize carousel voting, stuffing of ballot boxes, and oh yeah, completely uncalled-for political and personal sabotage.

If you were a betting person and put money on Azerbaijan’s presidential elections being the only corrupt and rigged elections in the country, you would be handing your hard-earned money to the house right about now.

Azerbaijan’s unicameral parliament, also known as the National Assembly is just as corrupt, if not more, than the Executive Office.[1] The National Assembly has 125 deputies from 66 districts and 12 cities that are directly elected to five year terms by the people.[2] Most of parliament is dominated by the New Azerbaijan Party, which is conveniently the party that repressive president Aliyev guy belongs to. In the last election alone, the New Azerbaijan Party won 72 of the 125 total seats.[3]

The elections for the National Assembly are rigged in their own right, making parliamentary elections just as not-free and seemingly unfair as its executive counterpart. In fact, the major opposing party to the New Azerbaijan Party, the Popular Front-Musavat, did not earn enough votes to secure even one seat in parliament![4]

Azerbaijan has picked up the bat, but is still learning how to swing; if democracy was anything like baseball. Maybe one day Azerbaijan will look to the west to see how to properly run a democracy. Until then, if you want to run for a seat in Azeri parliament, you better get on the Ilham Aliyev bandwagon, because those who oppose him are going nowhere fast.

And, just in case you don’t know where Azerbaijan is…a Wikipedia map!


Picture Credits

[1] Coene, Frederik. The Caucasus: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2010.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


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