Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev secured a fifth consecutive term with over 92% of the vote, as reported by election authorities. Nonetheless, international observers noted the absence of any substantial challengers.
The primary opposition parties chose to boycott the election, denouncing it as a mere “imitation of democracy.” The snap poll, initially scheduled for 2025, was triggered after the government took control of a region governed by ethnic Armenian separatists.
While Mr. Aliyev faced six other candidates, none presented critical views of his leadership. Celebrations erupted in the capital, Baku, where thousands of supporters gathered to mark the president’s re-election.
Official reports indicated that Aliyev garnered 92.05% of the vote with 93% of ballots counted, and a turnout of approximately 76%. However, such elections, where the president typically receives over 85% support, have been criticized by rights groups for lacking fairness and freedom.
Artur Gerasymov, leading an observer mission from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, highlighted that President Aliyev faced no substantial challenge, resulting in a contest devoid of genuine pluralism.
The early election was announced by Aliyev after his popularity surged following Azerbaijan’s successful military campaign in Nagorno-Karabakh, ending three decades of ethnic Armenian rule. The lightning offensive in September led to significant changes in the region, recognized internationally as Azerbaijani territory.
President Aliyev hailed the Karabakh victory as “epochal” and declared the election as the “beginning of a new era” held across the entire territory for the first time.
Opposition leader Ali Kerimali argued that the country lacked conditions for free and fair elections, citing restrictions on freedom of assembly, government pressure on the media, and suppression of political dissent.
Ilham Aliyev assumed office in 2003, succeeding his father, Heydar Aliyev, who came to power in 1993, two years after Azerbaijan gained independence from the former Soviet Union.
In recent months, Azerbaijani authorities have intensified efforts against independent media, arresting several critical journalists. Amnesty International has criticized Azerbaijan for repressing freedom of expression, targeting voices critical of the president.
Foreign leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, have extended congratulations to President Aliyev on his electoral victory.