Azerbaijan Presidential Elections 2013

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Presidential elections will be held on October 9, 2013 in Azerbaijan. In order to judge the levels of transparency, fairness and free holding of elections the government of Azerbaijan has already invited many reputed election observers (UN, OIC, OSCE, QUAM, CIS, Black Sea and Cooperation Organization etc.) from the world. It is hoped that more than 3000 international and thousands local observers will take part at Presidential elections 2013.

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According to the Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan all 125 constituencies will be monitored by the local, regional and international observers. According to the government about 5,300 permanent and 219 temporary polling stations are fully prepared for the elections. Cameras will be installed in 20 percent of polling stations.

The CEC says 5000 points in different spots of Azerbaijan have been allocated by executive bodies for candidates to hold meetings with voters during election campaign. The registered candidates are given facilities to carry on campaign on equal basis on Public Television and the state owned newspapers.

The presidential campaign and series of Presidential debates have already been started and televised in the country. Presidential candidates belonging to many different political parties are taking place in the elections 2013.

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Presidential Candidates Political Party Association
Ilham Aliyev (Incumbent President) Ruling Party
Igbal Agazada Umid
Zahid Oruj United Popular Front
Gudrat Hasanguliyev United Popular Front
Araz Alizada Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan
Faraj Guliyev Modern Musavat
Hafiz Hajiyev Modern Musavat
Jamil Hasanli National Council
Ilyas Ismayilov Adalat
Sardar Jalaloglu Democratic Party of Azerbaijan
Source Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan

Creditable NGO Cooperation Alliance Report (September, 2013)

The creditable NGO Cooperation Alliance (September, 2013) has held a press conference on the results of the 1st stage of monitoring the pre-election situation in Azerbaijan in connection with the upcoming presidential elections. Monitoring was conducted in six regions of the country and covered the period from 12 August to 12 September.

Survey’s Questions Responses %
Which presidential candidate do you trust most?” 89.3 of respondents favored current President Ilham Aliyev. 7.94 percent named single candidate from the National Council Jamil Hasanli, 0.91 percent candidate of the party Umid, Igbal Agazade, 0.55 percent Gudrat Hasanguliyev, 0.35 percent, Ilyas Ismayilov, 0.31percent, Sardar Jalaloglu, 0.62 percent, other candidates.
Who would you vote for if the elections were held today? 89.32 of respondents named current President Ilham Aliyev. 7.94 percent for the Jamil Hasanli, National Council, 2.74 percent for other candidates.
Source: NGO Cooperation Alliance (September, 2013)

Alleged Propaganda

Notions of alleged human rights abuses, denial of democracy, lack of transparency and absence of free elections are again wandering in some parts of the regional and international mass media which show nothing but inbuilt discourse, and preconceptions in shape of disguised socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic vested interests.

System of Governance

Every country has its own system of governance which is usually based on its traditions, culture, history, heritage, religion and the last but not the least, rituals. Democracy stands for the welfare of the electorates, socio-economic prosperity, dignity of the people at large and having qualitative life. Democracy does not stand for conspiracy, confrontation and contradictions, use to happen in so called advanced democratic countries of the world of the West, leaving behind political instability, corruption, societal divide and rise to ethnic discrimination. Afterwards, human miseries and financial dependencies tend to capture the indigenous talent, wisdom and resources, e.g. Sudan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and many more are the prime examples of premature transition of the political system.

Real Democracy stands for Service

Democracy is also not the “Queen of Happiness” having which tears may be turned into slimes. Rather, it is a gradual and continuous process of political reforms, sustainable socio-economic prosperity, better education, health and creation of employment. The West march of democracy starts from the “classical Athens in the 6th century B.C. to the present day”. It took centuries to develop in its to-day shape. Therefore, it is always about “System of Governance” which must function free from all political vendetta, economic victimization, social discrimination and above all ethnic divide. China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Brazil, Qatar and even AZERBAIJAN have different political systems but their deliveries of essential necessities of life to their masses have been tremendous. Because of these visionary domestic policies carried out by the President Ilham Aliyev the UN Development Programme on human development in 2010, Azerbaijan surpassed the group of countries with “average human development” and entered the group with “high human development”.

Effective Political Reforms

Right from the beginning the government of Azerbaijan introduced many effective political reforms in the country which is now paving its dividends. It has been giant changeover of politics, governance, civility, law, economics and above all wise leadership due to which the country stands firm from one party system to multi-party system, totalitarian to democratic system and from political stagnation to vibrant society.

Tolerant Society

Azerbaijan society is tolerant and free. People of all faiths and factions have the right to vote, education, health and excel. The country adheres to a strict separation of Church and State. It monitors the physician’s principle of “do no harm” toward religious groups and try to create favorable conditions for the freedom of worship such as by declaring November 16 as an official Day of Tolerance which endeavors to conserve the country’s different religions, cultures and traditions. Now, religious figures in Azerbaijan have declared that they will vote for Ilham Aliyev at the presidential elections. They extend their support because Muslims, Christians, Jews and representatives of other religious communities living in Azerbaijan always feel and appreciate the care and attention of the state. Humanitarian forums, forums for dialogue among civilizations, summits of representatives and heads of the world’s religions have been staged in the country which shows its firm belief in diversified humanity and ability of “dancing among the different cultures.”

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan: A Role Model

Devotion to secularism, mutual respect, modernity, education, and strong macro-economic conditions played very important role in the democratic transformation of its society. Now, it has become a role model for higher education (literacy rate is 99.8 percent), good governance, political steadiness and sustainable socio-economic development in the region and around the globe. Many latest reports of the regional think-tanks, working groups, monetary agencies and financial institutions, all speak highly about the good performance of Azerbaijan’s socio-economy, pragmatic foreign policy, commercial diplomacy, vivacious society and above all high level of political maturity, essential for achieving all factors of survival, production and success.

Democratic Formation and Hardship

Historically, from 1918 to 1920, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic granted political rights to all citizens regardless of ethnic origin, religion, class, profession, or sex. Azerbaijan was the first Muslim country to enfranchise women, two years before the U.S. Unfortunately the USSR invasion in 1920 snuffed out Azerbaijan’s nascent democracy, subjecting it to Soviet rule for 70 years. Nonetheless, that brief experience with self-created democracy remains an inspiration to the democratic aspirations of contemporary Azerbaijanis.

Role of Different State-Owned Programs

The State Programme of Socio-Economic Development of the Regions of Azerbaijan (2009-2013)”, “ the State Programme of Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development of the Republic of the Azerbaijan”, “ the State Programme of Ensuring Reliable Population in the Republic of Azerbaijan in food provision” (2008-2015) and other projects were successfully implemented which maintained its social fabric in most favorable conditions despite even in the ongoing global economic recession and financial crunch.

Strategic Dimensions of Social Development Model

Principles Explanations
Short-term economic development Reduction of poverty through creation of employment, careful mobilization of resources along with upholding of social justice.
Long-term and dynamic development Formation of a sustainable national economic system based at the principles of free market relations.
Utilization of mix of resources/reservoirs Efficient utilization of the existing natural-economical, technical-production and scientific-technical potential for economic purposes
Upgrading of macro-economy Rational integration of the national economy into the world economic system.

Universal Periodic Review Working Group (September, 2013)

Most recently published report (September, 2013) of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group has once again appreciated Azerbaijan diversified but integrated efforts towards human rights protection, democracy and transparency. Again it is espoused in another report published by the United States (US) entitled “Azerbaijan’s Regional Role: Iran and Beyond”. It has become a prominent role model for Muslim-majority nations seeking to manage religious and ethnic differences in a harmonious and productive manner, the report said.

Secular Policies and Soft Power

It is achieved because of its secular policies and embracing approach toward religious an ethnic diversity, Azerbaijanis have accrued substantial soft power as an attractive Muslim model for aping by other countries, the report further elaborated. Rigorous commercial diplomacy, progressive vision and diligence also helped Azerbaijanis overcome their post-Soviet distress and perfidious neighborhood to emerge as an influential force for religious, economic, and other forms of cooperation in the days of conflicting realities of socio-economy, geo-politics and geo-strategic scenarios. Its soft power, secular governance, Western orientation, and independent energy, economic, and security policies have secured its importance in the region and at international stage of power politics.

Think tank Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), September, 2013

The prestigious think tank Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), September, 2013 has released a report under title “A Decade in Motion. Southern Caucasus in 2003-2013” which cherished the success of Azerbaijan in economy, diversification of energy resources and above all rigorous industrialization. During these years, Azerbaijani economy enjoyed a strong, double digit growth, driven by its thriving energy sector, Georgian and Armenian economy experienced a lower.

Years Global Rankings
2008-2009 69
2010-2011 57
2011-2012 55
2012-2013 46
2013-2014 39
Source: Global competitiveness 2013/2014.

People’s Friendly Presidency

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According to said report, its domestic political development was marked by a consistent stability in the last years, supported by a flourishing economy. Indeed, after leading the country for a decade. In the Azerbaijani political system, decision making is concentrated in the presidency, allowing to the administration in office great latitude of action. But President Ilham Aliyev used his power in order to continue the economic and political strategy of his predecessor: attracting foreign investments especially in the energy sector, curtailing the influence of key regional players in the Azerbaijani political process, and pursuing a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.”

Extraordinary Performance

The report also says that Azerbaijani economy had an extraordinary performance during the past decade, experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 12.2 percent twice the level of the other Caucasian economies. It is hoped that in Azerbaijan, 2013 presidential elections, with the expected victory of the incumbent President Ilham Aliyav, will confirm the overall stability of the political system, which is bound to continue during the current decade, providing a positive environment for investments.

Comparative Study

The comparative study of its stable socio-economic performance shows that the GDP growth reached 1.3 percent in 1996, 5.8 percent in 1997, and averaged 10 percent during 1998-2003. In the last 8 years (2004-2011) country`s real GDP grew by three times.

Selected Economic Indicators (%) 2013 2014
GDP growth 3.1 4.8
Inflation 6.0 7.0
Current account balance (share of GDP) 13.o 17.0
Source: ADB estimates (2013-2014).

Estimations of Economic Minister

According to Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev, growth is forecast to accelerate 3.1 percent in 2013 mainly because of public spending in non-oil sector. Azerbaijan expects its GDP to grow by 6.7 percent in 2014, up from 5 percent expected this year, driven by growth of business beyond its dominant oil sector he added. The GDP has grown by about 300 percent. In the past decade, while industrial production is 2.5 times what it was ten years ago. Unemployment has also been reduced, to around 5 percent while those living in poverty now stand at 6 percent. The country’s strategic exchange reserves have increased more than 22 times in the last eight years to reach $41 billion at the end of 2011-2012.

Socio-Economic Recognition International Agency
Positive Credit Rating for its macro-economy Fitch Ratings, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s
Improved Doing Business Facilities World Bank, International Finance Corporation
Leading place among CIS and regional countries Global Competitiveness Report prepared by World Bank
High average income” countries World Bank’s gross national income classification
High human development” category UN Development Program’s Human Development report

A Balanced Regional Development

For achieving rational and a balanced regional economic development pattern, the economic minister said that in 2009-2012, 14.5 billion manat of public investment was directed for regional development. In 2013, 77 percent of the total capital investments worth 5.3 billion manat have been allotted on the development of the regions.

Critical Analysis of the last Decade

Critical analysis of the President Ilham Aliyev socio-economic performance during the last decade indicates tremendous socio-economic prosperity. Diversification of production and survival resources has been one of his main strategic priorities. The revenues of energy exploration, production and supply have been utilized to eradicate the high levels of poverty reduced from over 50 per cent to just six per cent. Process of industrialization, have been encouraged and finances from the oil and gas fields has been carefully channelled into education, and Human Resource Management (HRM) through the State Oil Fund of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOFAZ). Over the last decade, Azerbaijan has transformed into a leading regional investor, financing multi-billion projects in different countries of the world.

Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum (2013-2014)

Its elements of socio-economic stability and sustainability are also endorsed even in the latest rating of “Global competitiveness 2013/2014” of the World Economic Forum, Azerbaijan is in an indisputable leading position in the CIS for the protection of intellectual property. It occupies the 69th place.

(a) Intellectual Property Protection

CIS Ahead by
Kazakhstan 4
Russia 44
Ukraine 64
Source Global competitiveness 2013/2014.

Azerbaijan was presented as the most advanced state in the South Caucasus in regards to intellectual property protection in reports of recent years (2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013 & 2013-2014). Alongside with these components, Azerbaijan is in 51st place, thus taking the leading position among CIS states for innovation performance, indirectly reflecting the protection of intellectual property.

(b) Quality of Roads

CIS Ahead by
Kazakhstan 50
Russia 64
Armenia 79
Ukraine 84
Moldova 89
Source Global competitiveness 2013/2014.

Furthermore, According to the report Azerbaijan has topped other CIS countries in terms of the quality of roads. The criteria included investment in road infrastructure, construction of tunnels, the length of highways and its ratio to the population. Due to which today Azerbaijan figures on the list of 40 most effective world economies. Azerbaijan is raising its economic competitiveness year by year.

Most Competitive Economy

Azerbaijan has significantly improved its positions in the annual ranking list of world economies for 2013-2014 while consolidating its status of a country with the most competitive economy among the CIS states. The national budget grew 19 times over the last 10 years. It accounts for 75 percent of South Caucasus economy. Over $138 billion has been invested in economy. Incomes of population grew 6.9 percent, pensions 8.6 percent while salaries grew 6.3 times.

It should be emphasized that in the Global Competitiveness 2013-2014 Index, Azerbaijan is unconditionally ahead of all the countries of Eastern Europe, as well as a number of developed countries, including Italy. Moreover, in WEF rating Azerbaijan is ahead of the BRICS countries, except for China.

However, the ranking of the World Economic Forum is not the only report that reflects the ongoing development of Azerbaijan’s economy. Not so long ago, international rating agency Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have also improved the credit rating of Azerbaijan, which is also a good indicator of reforms.

Supportive & Supervisory Role of the Presidency

Azerbaijan’s rise in its overall competitiveness shows an independent economic policy, making economic and political dividends due to the policy of diversification. It is because of President Ilham Aliyev targeted at reducing dependence on energy resources, creating at innovative or, in other words, knowledge based economy, transforming oil into an intellectual capital yield visible, tangible and real results. So, indirectly these international monetary agencies appreciated these socio-economic policies of the President.

Diversification of Economy

His policy of diversification of macro-economy, non-oil sector has grown 10 percent more over the first seven months of the current year. Improvement in the ranking by 7 points compared to the report for 2012-2013 and by 16 points compared to the report for 2010-2011 reflects the success and efficiency of economic and social policy of the President now paying its dividends. One of the important actors of free market economy i.e. foreign direct investment (FDI) has increased in the country i.e. US$ 25.4 billion in January-July, 2013.

High Ratios of Exports

According to the State Statistical Committee (September, 2013), exports made US$ 19.2 billion and imports was USD 6.2 billion. It said during the reported period trade operations with 141 countries have been carried out. Some 27 countries are American, while 49 are European and 38 are Asian countries. Export of the non-oil goods increased by 9.9 percent in comparison with the same period of 2012.

Standard & Poor’s Report (September, 2013)

The Standard & Poor’s rating agency has recognized Azerbaijan a priority market on the CIS area. S&P has stated that in this regard the Agency is making efforts to expand its presence in the Azerbaijani market.

State Statistical Committee Report (September, 2013)

According to State Statistical Committee Report (September, 2013), GDP increased 5.2 percent to AZN 37.4 billion during January-August. Per capital GDP soared 3.9 percent to AZN 4,035.7. The value addition in non-oil sector surged 10.3 percent and its share in GDP increased to 55.2 percent from 51.1 percent, the report added.

Different Sectors GDP %
Production 63.8
Industry 47.2
Construction 11.0
Agriculture, forestry and fishery 5.6
Services 29.6
Trade and repair of transport facilities 24.5
Transport and storehouse 19.2
Tourist accommodation and catering 7.2
Information and communication services 5.8
Social and other service spheres 43.3

In addition to this, according to State Statistical Committee, growth rate of per head income exceeded the consumption price rise by 3.8 percentage points. 68.7 percent of incomes were spent to consumer needs, 9.1 percent the payment of taxes and contributions for social insurance, 1.7 percent to payments of interest on credit and 20.6 percent to charge”.

Economics of Geography

Azerbaijan is located at the crossroads of major Eurasian land and air transport corridors a feature that will play a vital part in its long-term success, if utilized properly. Economically, it could serve not only as a commercial bridge between Europe and Asia, but also as a major distribution hub in Eurasia. Unlike its energy strategy, however, Azerbaijan’s vision for development of its non-oil economy is still a work in progress. Nearly 95 percent of the country’s exports and more than 55 percent of GDP come from the sale of oil and natural gas a situation that is unlikely to change in the immediate future.

Booming Oil & Gas Sector

Azerbaijan has a booming oil & gas sector. High inflows of FDIs is attracted in the energy sector due to which oil production has increased by 3 times earning the country US$ 78 billion. Increase of gas production by 5.6 times transformed Azerbaijan from the gas importing country into the gas exporting one.

Its mix of energy resources are being transported through diversified network system like Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum and others. Implementation of these energy projects labels Azerbaijan as the regional energy leader/hub. 14 newly constructed power electric stations all over Azerbaijan not only ensured a long-term electric energy security of republic but made possible to export it to the neighbouring countries as well.

(a) Agriculture Sector

During the last decade the agricultural sector was increased by 3.3 times. More than US$ 1 billion soft loans were allocated to reforms in this particular field assuring the food security of the country.

(b) Transport & Logistics

During the last decade tremendous achievements were made in transport field as well. Nearly 14 billion USD have been invested in this sector. Number of international airports increased up to 6, fleet of national flag career AZAL and marine transport were fully renewed. Implemented and ongoing transport corridor projects contributed to facilitation of transportation of goods and passengers from Central Asia and Azerbaijan onwards to Europe and back and ultimately made country a main transport hub of the region.

(c) Social Security & Education

Ilham-Aliyev-Mehriban-Aliyeva

Right from the beginning, the President Ilham Aliyev paid special attention to social security and education. The state took all possible steps to solve the social problems by also creating system of social security including rise of salaries and swift pension system in compliance with advanced international standards.

Support to youth has been one of the main priorities of the state. Due to which the average monthly amount of pensioners has increased by 8 times. The allocations for education increase by 6 times. The government was also made mechanism of study of young people abroad. Nearly two thousand young people were involved in this program so far and this figure is expected to cross 5000 by 2015. Moreover, in the last decade, total of 2457 new school buildings were built and repaired for study of 550 thousand pupils. The schools were fully computerized and pupils were provided free textbooks.

(d) Tourism

Tourism has become one of the main contributors of the GDP. Number of Hotels has increased more than 5 times and the number of tourists visited Azerbaijan last year crossed 2 million people.

(e) Leading Role

Azerbaijan plays effective and supportive role in the Council of Europe and the OSCE, OIC and the ECO. It got a membership in Non-Aligned Movement and a seat of a non-permanent member of UN SC in 2011 allocated for Eastern Europe. It became Europe’s main partner in the region. Its role in the war against terrorism is commendable.

Remarkable Events Details
Singing Eurovision 2012
Olympic Games First European Olympic Games 2015
Different Champions & Conferences number of world and European championships, international conferences
Women Women World Cup-17 Women World Cup-17

(f) Judicial Reforms

During the last decade the Government also introduced meaningful juridical reforms. Economic courts were established. People living in the remote areas got easier access to the courts. Two national concepts on human rights and the law on ex-presidents were adopted. Furthermore, constitutional reforms were carried out; thousands of prisoners were pardoned etc.

(g) Mass Media Growth

During his regime a vibrant and purposeful mass media was developed. The mechanism of public support to media was created, reasonable funds were allocated to its support, internet freedom has been secured and the online media has developed, the project to provide housing for journalists was initiated as well. Today 70 percent of population in Azerbaijan is internet users and this figure is growing every passing year, the highest in the CIS and even better from many East and West European countries.

(h) Promotion of Islamic Values

The President patronized the Islamic values in the country by constructing of hundreds of new mosques, renovations of shrines, establishment of religious institutions etc. which his devotion towards religion.

Concluding Remarks

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Many economic research studies uphold the importance of political stability and continuation of socio-economic policies and political reforms. Many countries of the Latin America, MENA, Asia and even EU gained and maintained the high levels of qualitative life because of political stability and unity of command. Recent ongoing political chaos in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Kenya has already produced serious dints in their marc-economies. Ilham Aliyev (incumbent President) strategic vision has successfully transformed the shores of Azerbaijan into hub of energy resources. Now migratory birds of FDIs are crisscrossing their eggs in the nets of Azerbaijan. Now, chill of Europe is dependent on the easy and smooth supplies of its energy resources. Ilham Aliyev has also made it regional commercial center and bridge to many regional and transactional countries.

During the last decade, besides, the opening of new industries/corporations and job creation in the non-oil sector, the extraordinary development of the manufacturing, transport and utilities infrastructure, the establishment of modern social facilities, including educational, health and sports institutions, laid the foundation for the country’s all-round development in the said period.

Due to his wise leadership, society is tolerant, free from any chauvinism. Political system is maturated enough to rheostat any shock. Economy is strong, stable and sustainable, a major tool meeting the demands of its people. The building of a democratic society and a system of transparent public relations has been the key direction of state policies in the years of independence. During the last decade political pluralism has been nurtured as the necessary foundation of sustainable progress. Effective legal and democratic conditions have been institutionalized in the realms of political parties. A total of 55 political parties are registered in Azerbaijan, of which 11 are represented in parliament.

Commercial diplomacy has achieved high levels of strategic cushion. High levels of exports, inflows of FDI and joint ventures are the few examples of its rigorous commercial diplomacy. President’s pragmatic foreign policy has minimized its foreign reliance. Its strong military is ready to respond any external aggression.

Better public health care and medication have been one of the salient features in the past decade. More than 650 million manats were allocated. Over 400 medical institutions have been built or renovated in the vast majority of Azerbaijani districts in the last 10 years. All of these have been fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and technology.

In Azerbaijan religion is sacred but rituals are not allowed to dominate on others faiths and factions. Discrimination is a bygone story and fairy tales of dialogue among the different civilizations and culture are commonly welcomed in every part of the Azerbaijan. Doves of harmony, peace and progress are flying high in order to disassemble the Hawks ill designs. Social security, better education, creation of employment is the salient features of the Ilham Aliyev, incumbent President during the last decade. Respect for the humanity, political indifference and high levels of transparency, accountability and corruption free doing business facilities have made Azerbaijan, an ideal destination of FDI and joint ventures.

Due to his people and societal friendly policies, the civil society in the country is strong, vigilant and participatory. Now, more than 2,700 NGOs are rigorously working in the fields of human rights, education, health, economics, social issues, environment, gender, etc.

Keeping in view, tremendous performance of the macro-economy, successful implementation of Azerbaijan 2020, political stability and rise to secularism, it is hoped that Ilham Aliyev, incumbent President would be the ultimate victor in the upcoming Presidential Elections 2013.

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