Politics of Azerbaijan

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The Politics of Azerbaijan take place in a framework of a presidential republic, with the President of Azerbaijan as the head of state, and the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan as head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Judiciary is nominally independent of the executive and the legislature.

Political history[edit]

Azerbaijan declared its independence from the former Soviet Union on August 30, 1991, with Ayaz Mutalibov, former First Secretary of the Azerbaijani Communist Party, becoming the country's first President. Following a massacre of Azerbaijanis at Khojali in Nagorno-Karabakh in March 1992, Mutalibov resigned and the country experienced a period of political instability. The old guard returned Mutalibov to power in May 1992, but less than a week later his efforts to suspend scheduled presidential elections and ban all political activity prompted the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (PFP) to organize a resistance movement and take power. Among its reforms, the PFP dissolved the predominantly Communist Supreme Soviet and transferred its functions to the 50-member upper house of the legislature, the National Council.

Elections in June 1992 resulted in the selection of PFP leader Abulfaz Elchibey as the country's second president. The PFP-dominated government, however, proved incapable of either credibly prosecuting the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict or managing the economy, and many PFP officials came to be perceived as corrupt and incompetent. Growing discontent culminated in June 1993 in an armed insurrection in Ganja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city. As the rebels advanced virtually unopposed on Baky, President Elchibey fled to his native province of Nakhchivan.

The National Council conferred presidential powers upon its new speaker, Heydar Aliyev, former First Secretary of the Azerbaijani Communist Party (1969–81) and later a member of the Soviet Union's Politburo, the KGB, and USSR Deputy Prime Minister (until 1987). Elchibey was formally deposed by a national referendum in August 1993, and Aliyev was elected to a 5-year term as President in October with only token opposition. Aliyev won re-election to another 5-year term in 1998, in an election marred by serious irregularities.

The Speaker of Parliament stood next in line to the President, but the constitution was changed at the end of 2002: now the premier is next in line. This was done to make it possible for the son of the 80-year old Heydar, İlham Aliyev to succeed his father, who was admitted to a Turkish hospital on July 8, 2003 because of heart problems. In August 2003, İlham Aliyev was appointed as premier, though Artur Rasizade, who had been prime minister since 1996, continued to fulfill the duties of that office so that İlham could concentrate on his presidential election bid. In the October 2003 presidential elections, İlham Aliyev was announced winner while international observers reported several irregularities. He was sworn in as president at the end of the month, and Rasizade became premier again.

Executive branch[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President İlham Aliyev New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) October 15, 2003
Prime Minister Artur Rasizade New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) October 15, 2003

The head of state and head of government are separate from the country’s law-making body. President is the head of the state and head of executive branch. The people elect the president; the prime minister is appointed by the President and confirmed by the National Assembly of Azerbaijan. The President appoints all cabinet-level government administrators (ministers, heads of other central executive bodies).

Since 2008, the Constitution of Azerbaijan was amended, abolishing any term limit for the office of President.[1]

Legislative branch[edit]

The National Assembly of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Milli Məclis) is the legislative branch of government in Azerbaijan. The unicameral National Assembly has 125 deputies: previously 100 members were elected for five-year terms in single-seat constituencies and 25 were members elected by proportional representation; as of the latest election, however, all 125 deputies are returned from single-member constituencies. The assembly is headed by the Speaker of Milli Majlis assisted by the First Deputy Speaker and two deputy speakers. Ogtay Asadov is the current speaker of the assembly, Ziyafet Asgarov is the First Deputy Speaker and, Bahar Muradova and Valeh Alasgarov are deputy speakers.[2]

Political parties and elections[edit]

Azerbaijan is considered a one party dominant state. Opposition parties against the New Azerbaijan Party are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.

Azerbaijan parliamentary election, 2010[edit]

In the 2010 parliamentary elections, the ruling New Azerbaijan Party strengthened its grasp on the legislative. President Ilham Aliyev's ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party got a majority of 73 out of 125 seats.[3] The other seats went to nominally independent, government-leaning candidates, and to "soft opposition" parties. The two major opposition parties (Musavat and the Parties of the People’s Front of Azerbaijan) lost their previous 8 seats, thus resulting in an opposition-free Parliament.[1][4]

The Central Election Commission said turnout was 50.1%, out of a total 4.9 million people eligible to vote. Opposition leaders suggested the low turnout was due to candidate disqualifications by the CEC, and consequent discouragements to vote after their choice of candidate was excluded.[5]

The United States declared that the elections "did not meet international standards",[1] while the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), EU and Council of Europe highlighted some positive aspects, while stating that "the conduct of the elections did not represent significant progress in the process of the country’s democratic development".[1]

Azerbaijan presidential election, 2003[edit]

e • d Summary of the 15 October 2003 Azerbaijan presidential election results
Candidates and nominating parties Votes %
İlham AliyevNew Azerbaijan Party (Yeni Azərbaycan Partiyası) 2,438,787 76.8
İsa QambarEquality Party (Müsavat Partiyası) 372,385 14.0
Lalə Şövket HacıyevaNational Unity (Milli Birlik) 100,558 3.6
Etibar MammadovAzerbaijan National Independence Party (Azərbaycan Milli İstiqlal Partiyası) 62,401 2.9
İlyas İsmayılovJustice Party (Ədalət Partiyası) 24,926 1.0
Sabir RüstamxanlıCivic Solidarity Party (Vətəndaş Həmrəyliyi Partiyası) 23,730 0.8
Qüdrat HasanquliyevAzerbaijan Popular Front Party (Azərbaycan Xalq Cəbhəsi Partiyası) 13,624 0.5
Hafiz HajiyevModern Equality Party (Müasir Müsavat Partiyası) 9,990 0.3
Total (turnout 71.5 %) 3,046,401  
Source: Central Election Commission

After the presidential elections of October 15, 2003, an official release of the Central Election Committee (CEC) gave Isa Gambar — leader of the largest opposition bloc, Bizim Azerbaycan ("Our Azerbaijan") — 14% percent of the electorate and the second place in election. Third, with 3.6%, came Lala Shevket, leader of the National Unity Movement, the first woman to run in presidential election in Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, the OSCE,[6] the Council of Europe, Human Rights Watch[7] and other international organizations, as well as local independent political and NGOs voiced concern about observed vote rigging and a badly flawed counting process.

Several independent local and international organizations that had been observing and monitoring the election directly or indirectly declared Isa Gambar winner in the October 15 election. Another view shared by many international organisations is that in reality a second round of voting should have taken place between the two opposition candidates Isa Gambar and Lala Shevket.

  • Human Rights Watch commented on these elections: "Human Rights Watch research found that the government has heavily intervened in the campaigning process in favor of Prime Minister Ilham Aliev, son of current President Heidar Aliev. The government has stacked the Central Election Commission and local election commission with its supporters, and banned local non-governmental organizations from monitoring the vote. As the elections draw nearer, government officials have openly sided with the campaign of Ilham Aliev, constantly obstructing opposition rallies and attempting to limit public participation in opposition events. In some cases, local officials have closed all the roads into town during opposition rallies, or have extended working and school hours—on one occasion, even declaring Sunday a workday—to prevent participation in opposition rallies." [7]

In addition to criticism by Human Rights Watch, several Azerbaijani journalists, including Eynulla Fatullayev and Elmar Huseynov, have been persecuted or been killed for their criticism of the government.

Judicial branch[edit]

The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan is a supreme judicial body on civil, criminal and other cases related to the execution of general and specialized courts. The Constitutional Court of Azerbaijan is the supreme body of constitutional justice on the matters attributed to its jurisdiction by the Constitution, with authority to interpret and apply the Constitution of Azerbaijan.

Administrative divisions[edit]

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Foreign relations[edit]

Azerbaijan is a member of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, NATO's Partnership for Peace, Euro-Atlantic Partnership; World Health Organization, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the Council of Europe, CFE Treaty, the Community of Democracies; the International Monetary Fund; and the World Bank.

Turkey (the first country to recognize Azerbaijan's independence) has been a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan in its efforts to consolidate its independence, preserve its territorial integrity and realize its economic potential arising from the rich natural resources of the Caspian Sea. The Turkish cultural close ties with Azerbaijan is summarized by the slogan "One people, two states".

Armenia supports ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in the longstanding and very bitter separatist conflict against the Azerbaijani Government; the two countries are still technically at war, although a cease-fire has been in place since 1994. (See Nagorno-Karabakh conflict).

Azerbaijan is one of the few countries with predominantly Muslim populations that shares a strategic alliance with Israel. Today, Israel is a major arms supplier to the country. (See Azerbaijan–Israel relations).

Azerbaijan also maintains good relations with the European Union, in the framework of its Eastern European Neighbourhood Policy (See Azerbaijan and the European Union).

Azerbaijan was elected as one the members of the newly established Human Rights Council (HRC) by the General Assembly on May 9, 2006. Term of office will begin on June 19, 2006. [1]

Military[edit]

The Azerbaijan Armed Forces consists of four military branches: the army, navy, air force, and air defense forces. The national armed forces of Azerbaijan were formed by presidential decree in October 1991.

In July 1992, Azerbaijan ratified the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment and provides for the destruction of weaponry in excess of those limits.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]