Results of Azerbaijan’s referendum show overwhelming support for president to extend term in office

By bne IntelliNews September 29, 2016

Some 91.2% of Azerbaijani voters supported the extension of the presidential term from five to seven years, the country's Central Election Commission (CEC) announced on September 28 after almost 100% of the referendum ballots have been counted. 

Some 69.7% of Azerbaijan's 5.2mn registered voters cast ballots in a controversial referendum on constitutional amendments that are expected to strengthen the grip on power of President Ilham Aliyev on September 26. The figure exceeds the 25% minimum turnout necessary to validate the results, which will be announced by October 21, CEC has said.

Critics have accused the proponent of the referendum, President Aliyev, of seeking to enshrine his already great executive powers in the constitution and to pave the way for his family to succeed him should he fall sick or step down. In July, Aliyev introduced a decree calling for a referendum on constitutional amendments that would introduce two new offices in the state administration - that of the vice president and of the first vice president, positions that he would appoint and dismiss; extend the presidential term from five to seven years; and scrap the requirement that presidential and parliamentary candidates be over 35 and 25 years old, respectively. His proposal came shortly after the attempted coup d'etat in Turkey, which is one of Azerbaijan’s main commercial and diplomatic partners.

The referendum contained 29 questions. According to CEC chairman Mazahir Panahov, 84.2% had voted to extend the presidential term, which would allow Aliyev to hold his current position until 2020, when he would have to run again. A two-term presidential limit was scrapped in 2009, so he can run as many times as he wishes.

With most of the votes counted, the approval rate for other measures, such as creating an office of the first vice president and that of a vice president, were also above 80%, CEC added. CEC has until October 21 to publish the final results. However, it is apparent that the incumbent has successfully achieved a popularly-backed and constitutional expansion of his powers.

Human rights watchdog Freedom House criticised Baku for the referendum in a statement published on September 28. “Azerbaijan’s election commission ignored its own requirements by accepting the results of the September 26 referendum despite well-documented ballot stuffing, the detention of people protesting the procedures, and other serious irregularities,” Robert Herman, Freedom House's vice president for international programs, said. 

Meanwhile, the Council of Europe's body for legal affairs, the Venice Commission, also criticised the constitutional amendments for eroding democratic checks and balances, and severely restricting the parliament's authority in a report published last week. 

Related Articles

Fitch affirms Azerbaijan's power utility Azereneji at BB+ despite mounting debt

Fitch Ratings has affirmed the long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of Azerbaijan's utility Azerenerji at BB+ with a negative outlook, saying the action was justified by the company's ... more

Azerbaijan draws criticism for journalists’ arrests

Azerbaijani authorities should stop curtailing media freedom after they arrested three journalists and blocked two leading news websites over the past week and strengthened ... more

Azerbaijani parliament curtails Internet freedom with new defamation law

The Azerbaijani parliament approved a series of amendments to the criminal code on November 29 criminalising defamation on the Internet, Turan news agency reported. Specifically, the amendments ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or 12 months full access inc. Magazine and Weekly Newspaper for just $119/year.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

Thank you for purchasing a bne IntelliNews subscription. We look forward to serving you as one of our paid subscribers. An email confirmation will be sent to the email address you have provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. The confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.

Dismiss