The incumbent, Ilham Aliyev, was nominated by the New Azerbaijan Party for a second term on 3 August 2008. Musavat, the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, the Azerbaijan Liberal Party, the Citizen and Progress Party, and the Azerbaijan Democratic Party announced their boycott of the election due to unfair conditions. In response, an aide to Aliyev claimed that the opposition withdrew because it "knew that President Aliyev would win the elections with a majority." A total of seven candidates filed to run in the election. Each of the candidates had to collect 40,000 support signatures.
Campaigning officially began in mid-September. The candidates were limited to a four-week campaigning period by law. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, IRFS and RSF, the media (state-owned and private) showed bias in favor of Aliyev's candidacy.
The election was observed by more than 500 international observers, mostly from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE said that there was progress in the elections compared to past ones, however it did not meet international standards, because of the lack of competition to incumbent Ilham Aliyev. The NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, declared "He welcomes reports from the international election observers from OSCE, Council of Europe and the European Parliament indicating progress in the conduct of Azerbaijan’s presidential elections on 15 October 2008. Azerbaijan should build on this achievement and address the remaining shortcomings that were noted."
Avez Temirhan of the election-boycotting Azerbaijan Liberal Party said, "This leadership is not legitimate and its election does not reflect the will of the people."
A total of seven candidates registered with the Central Election Commission.
The incumbent, Ilham Aliyev, won the election with over 87.34% of the votes, and Igbal Aghazade came in second with 2.82% of the votes. Voter turnout was 75.64%. Fuad Aliyev and Hafiz Hajiev, as in 2003, received fewer votes than supporting signatures. Eight polling places' votes were invalidated.