A cartoon of Camil Hassanli slaying a hydra-headed monster representing the other presidential candidates that have ganged up against him has caught the imagination of people.
In Azerbaijan’s tightly managed political and media environment it is not often that a person emerges from the shadows to steal the limelight and catch the imagination of people. Yet this is what a University History professor in his seventies has been able to do over the last weeks since he unexpectedly was chosen as a last minute substitute to represent the opposition “National Council of Democratic Forces” in the Presidential elections that are due in a few days time.
Camil Hasanli had never been in front-line politics before, but had within academic and intellectual circles a reputation as an honest and intellectual person of integrity. Few thought that he had the attributes necessary for the rough and tumble of Azerbaijani politics. Yet over a short period of time, and thanks mainly to a window of opportunity provided by the election campaign which gave him a few minutes of exposure on national television, Hasanli grew in stature by the minute. It was not only his own tough and uncompromising statements in which he lambasted the government for incompetence and corruption that earned him accolades, but also the fact that most of the other candidates in the election preferred to gang up against him. With a cool panache Hasanli saw them off one by one. More…
Less than two weeks ahead of Presidential elections in Azerbaijan the Turkish newspaper “Todays’ Zaman” carried an interview with Elnur Aslanov, chief of the Presidential Administration’s Political Analysis and Information Department, in which the senior Azerbaijani official talked about the country’s improving democratic development and rapidly shifting face. Calling his country a nation with an “eastern mentality and western pragmatism,” Aslanov had no doubt that Azerbaijan has made great progress toward democracy, noting that there is still a road ahead. More…
CEW interviewed Murad Gassanly, the official representative of the Chairman of Azerbaijani National Council of Democratic Forces in the United Kingdom, about the plans of the opposition and the situation around the elections in Azerbaijan:
Q1: It seems that the opposition in Azerbaijan has been able for the first time to unite behind a single candidate and political platform ahead of the forthcoming Presidential elections. How important is this step? To what extent has compromise been necessary, and possible?
This is indeed an unprecedented development in Azerbaijani politics – all major political parties, organisations and civil society groups are united within the framework of the National Council, and a common candidate has been chosen to represent the democratic movement in this election. There have been previous attempts to unite the opposition but the National Council is a qualitatively different structure. More…
Ahead of Presidential Elections in Azerbaijan, political analyst Dennis Sammut looks at the background to the current political situation and the likely post-election scenario.
Many consider that the result of the presidential elections due to be held in Azerbaijan on 9 October is a foregone conclusion. Some polls commissioned by pro-government sources are already predicting that 90% of those voting will cast their ballot in favour of the incumbent President Ilham Aliev. The opposition claims, and many international observers agree, that the political space for those opposing the government in Azerbaijan is narrower now than at any time since the collapse of the USSR, of which Azerbaijan was one of the constituent republics.
So why is the government, the opposition, the international community and others bothering to go through the motions of having an election, and of engaging with it in different ways? The answer is that there is a political debate and process going on in Azerbaijan, in public, but mostly under the surface. The Presidential election is not the most important part of it by far, but with all its shortcomings it is still an essential piece of the jigsaw for both government and opposition. More…
The Head of the Secretariat of the Azerbaijani Central Elections Commission, Rovzat Gasimov, has stated that nearly half a million young people will vote for the first time in the forthcoming presidential election in the country. This constitutes around 10% of the total electorate, which is approximately five million voters. Gasimov also said that in all around 40% of the electorate are considered to be youth.
Gasimov was speaking at the launch of a project called “Vote” which is being implemented by the “Ireli” public union with the assistance of the Central Elections Commission. The launch was held earlier this week at the Park Inn Hotel in Baku. Speaking at the event, “Ireli “ Chairman Rauf Merdiyev said that the goal is to raise the turnout of the youth in the upcoming Presidential elections and to raise election awareness amongst young people voting for the first time.
The Election Manifesto of Camil Hassanli, the candidate of the National Council of Democratic Forces (full text)
This Manifesto sets out the policies, plans and commitments of Azerbaijani National Council of Democratic Forces, and its single, united candidate in the presidential elections of 2013. This Manifesto is drawn up in order to facilitate a free and fair pre-election environment; to create conditions for a truly competitive, democratic contest; to ensure that the rule of law and democratic principles are the basis of political power in Azerbaijan; and to achieve constructive cooperation between different political and public organizations. More…