Azerbaijan's President Aliyev to run for fourth term in October

Azerbaijan's President Aliyev to run for fourth term in October
President Ilham Aliyev has been in power since 2003.
By bne IntelliNews February 2, 2018

Azerbaijan's ruling party, New Azerbaijan, has nominated sitting president Ilham Aliyev as its candidate for the presidential election to take place in October.

The nomination is of course a formality as the three-time president faces little competition, having jailed, harassed and driven into exile many members of the opposition. Aliyev, 57, is the son of Azerbaijan's first president, Heydar Aliyev, whom he replaced at the helm of the country in 2003 following his father's death.

In order to accommodate Ilham Aliyev's long stint in office, the constitution was amended in 2009 to allow a president to serve more than two terms in power, and then again in 2016, to extend the presidential term from five to seven years. The latter amendment takes effect this year.

In February 2017, Aliyev appointed his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, as first vice president, putting her next in line to the president. This was also made possible by the constitutional referendum the previous year, which increased the president's powers to decide on his line of succession. 

Aliyev customarily wins elections with high percentages of the vote, in part because he enjoys popularity in Azerbaijan, and in part because the weakened political opposition parties have failed to come together. In addition, opposition parties face draconic censorship aimed at preventing them truly engaging with the general public. Media outlets are frequently banned from featuring them, and their rallies often end with police arrests of peaceful demonstrators.

Nevertheless, one opposition party - the Classical Popular Front (CPFPA) - has named its candidate for the election in the person of Miramakhmud Miralioglu, its 60-year-old chairman. In an interview with the Caucasian Knot, Miralioglu said that "despite the absence of even minimal conditions for democratic elections in the country, our party decided to take part in the campaign. We believe that the participation of the opposition in the election should activate the electorate".

The election will take place on October 17.