Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
As per Azerbaijan`s Central Election Commission (CEC), Presidential Election will be held on April 11, 2018. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev signed an order on February 5, 2018 announcing extraordinary presidential election in Azerbaijan. According to the order, the extraordinary presidential election will be held on April 11, 2018. A total of amount AZN 55,136,429 are planned to be allocated for the 2018 presidential election.
According to Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission (CEC), pre-election campaigning starts 23 days prior to the voting day and is stopped 24 hours before the start of voting. Thus, the campaigning will start on March 19 and end at 08:00 on April 10. Moreover, candidates can present their documents to the Central Election Commission starting from February 27, 2018 in order to participate in the early presidential election in Azerbaijan.
There is “hue and cry” in the Western mass media about the snap presidential election 2018 in Azerbaijan. The Western media project baseless speculations about its early elections. But in reality, announcing of snap election is not an extra-constitutional act and constitution of Azerbaijan permits President to announce early presidential election. It is further elaborated by Azerbaijan Constitution, Article 101 according to which the term of office of the head of state has been prolonged from 5 to 7 years.
The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan has the right to appeal to voters for a vote of confidence to announce an extraordinary presidential election. Therefore, the issues envisaged in the Order “On the announcement of the extraordinary presidential election in the Republic of Azerbaijan” fully comply with the requirements of the Constitution and the legislation”.
In the near past, even Greece, Spain, UK, Japan and Germany announced and conducted snap elections in their countries so what is so special about Azerbaijan’s snap presidential election 2018. Being regional expert on Azerbaijan and CIS holding the elections in October or April neither limits the opportunities of potential candidates nor gives them additional advantages.
Now Azerbaijan’s Election Commission being an independent entity has started several decisions on early presidential election. An Expert Group has been created under the CEC to investigate complaints on actions and decisions that violate the electoral rights of citizens.
Moreover, a working group has also been formed under the CEC. For timely, transparent, fair and free presidential election the CEC has instructed all officials and departments to ensure the conduct of presidential election in accordance with the country’s Electoral Code. According to Article 179.2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, starting from the day of the announcement of extraordinary presidential election by the country’s president, the Central Election Commission shall schedule election for a Wednesday within a week and hold it within 60 days.
The Republic of Azerbaijan will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Mega events relating to investments, culture dialogues, regional peace, tourism and many more will also be arranged during 2018. These events will be taking place simultaneously. So, snap presidential election would provide essential time for the state to arrange other mega events and projects during 2018 with ease. It is a “smart administrative move” and height of “time management” which would make things easy and smooth during 2018 and beyond.
Constitution of Azerbaijan stands for “checks and balances” and “separation of powers”. It also protects the basic human rights. It institutionalizes interfaith harmony and peace. It upholds social justices. It bans every kind of discrimination. It encourages politicization. It promotes further democratization. Snap presidential election is also necessary because the 2025 parliamentary and the presidential elections in Azerbaijan will be held at approximately the same time.
Snap presidential election has nothing to do with any kind of political maneuvering, administrative marginalization and above all self-assumed discretions as projected in western media rather it is necessary as holding of both parliamentary and presidential elections in a month’s time (2025) would be a challenging process. It would give an equal playing field to all the candidates for the snap presidential as well as parliamentary elections to be held in 2025. It would further strengthen “people’s free choice”. It would enhance political maturity in the country.
The Republic of Azerbaijan being the “first democratic republic” in the Muslim World always believes in political stability, societal enlightenment and economic growth through holding of fair, free and transparent elections on regular basis. All the elections in Azerbaijan have been held in a democratic, transparent and fair manner in accordance with the country’s Constitution, Electoral Code and other relevant legislation acts.
It always invites reputed election observers i.e. (UN, OIC, OSCE, QUAM, CIS, Black Sea and Cooperation Organization etc. to freely monitor electioneering process in the country. The registered candidates are always facilitated to carry their campaigns on equal basis on Public Television and the state owned newspapers.
Notions of alleged human rights abuses, denial of democracy, lack of complete transparency and absence of free elections are again being made headlines 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 due to which Azerbaijan government has already advised its national and regional mass media to play an “proactive role” to protect the electoral and common voters in the upcoming presidential election to be held on April 11, 2018.
Azerbaijan is the icon of smarter economy, modernization, good governance, and the last but not the least green energies due to why its nation is least interested in any kind of political mileage or misadventure rather they are keen in the continuation of macro-economy reforms, success of “strategic road map”, conflict resolution of Karabakh issue, sustained economic development, political stability, continuation of the system, regional supremacy of the country in terms of connecting hub, economic corridors, development of mega projects, national sovereignty, protection of territorial integrity, regional connectivity and above all people’s friendly policies. Now it has more than 75-80 percent GDP of South Caucasus. People are also interested in further betterment in governance system and achievement of dreams of a “qualitative life”.
Now, Azerbaijan is one of the most stable countries in the world. It maintains the highest “trust level” between the government and people. President Ilham Aliyev has transformed concepts of good governance and services delivery by institutionalizing spirits of merit, transparency and functional efficacy in the country.
The 6th Congress of the New Azerbaijan Party has unanimously put forward the candidacy of the party’s chairman, President Ilham Aliyev for the early presidential election to be held on April 11, 2018. “The nomination of the candidacy of the New Azerbaijan Party chairman, current President Ilham Aliyev is the will of not only members of the ruling party, but also the entire Azerbaijani people.
Chairman of the Press Council is of the opinion that all public opinion polls conducted both inside the country and those carried out by international organizations show that the most votes are going to cast for current President Ilham Aliyev. Press Council chairman stressed that freedom of speech and press is ensured in Azerbaijan at a high level.
Azerbaijan upholds highest levels of “freedom of speech” in the country. Any event taking place both in the country’s regions and in the center of the capital is immediately made public both inside the country and presented to the world community. There are no restrictions in this regard. Moreover, each citizen is entitled to expressing his or her views on any given issue in relevant media. Today, Azerbaijani media are independent, and professional.
Democracy stands for the welfare of the voters. It guarantees socio-economic prosperity. It secures dignity of the people at large. It promises a 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 sever 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, Syria, Yugoslavia and many more are the prime examples of premature transition of the political system. Of course, Azerbaijan is a matured democratic country and upcoming presidential election will further strengthen democratic spirits in the country.
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. AZERBAIJAN’S DEMOCRACY is tremendous, people’s friendly and real.