Calm seas in Azerbaijan ahead of presidential election

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Incumbent Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will win the presidential election on October 15. Pollsters predict that he will get over 86% of the 4.8 million votes.

MOSCOW. (Gyulnara Mamedzade for RIA Novosti) 

Incumbent Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will win the presidential election on October 15. Pollsters predict that he will get over 86% of the 4.8 million votes.

Given the domestic political situation in Azerbaijan and the "Aliyev factor," this forecast appears probable.

Officially, the country's central election commission has registered seven candidates, but six of them are obscure politicians who cannot hope to defeat Aliyev. However, they will run for the post, creating a political background until a new political elite appears, even if in rudimentary form, in Azerbaijan.

The country's most influential opposition parties, which have had their ups and downs on the political scene for over 15 years, have decided to boycott the election as the only way to save political face. They explained their decision by the lack of a democratic environment in Azerbaijan, sufficient conditions for fair competition and pressure on the media.

But this is only a cover for their ideological and financial impotence and diminishing electorate.

The most the opposition can do in the remaining few days before the election is to hold empty demonstrations, to maintain their image in the eyes of the public rather than try to influence the political imbalance.

Unlike other countries, election dynamics are moving backwards in Azerbaijan. The people are quiet; the authorities have completed preparations for the election and can take 40 winks because they fully control the situation, whereas the radical opposition has as good as recognized its defeat.

The supporters of the powers-that-be and the six obscure candidates for the presidency see no sense in large-scale and highly expensive campaigns. Ilham Aliyev does not need additional promotion, whereas the opposition candidates do not want their positions to deteriorate by fighting against such a powerful opponent.

Azerbaijan will have to wait five to ten more years for the emergence of new leaders of the protest electorate.

Azerbaijan did not have such stability and predictability, which is connected directly to the rule of Ilham Aliyev, even during the reign of his illustrious father, Geidar Aliyev. Conditions have changed.

At the beginning of his first presidential term, Ilham Aliyev proposed - and has since been implementing - a political program focused on national priorities and strengthening the country's image abroad. The Azerbaijani authorities have huge financial resources, and the budget keeps growing, largely thanks to energy projects. There is a construction boom underway and economic development is on the rise. The president has strengthened his standing in the country by giving priority attention to socio-economic problems.

During his second term, he should focus on maintaining and increasing the people's trust. He can only do this by ensuring the rule of law, strengthening democratic institutions, fighting corruption, and forming an influential structure of public control. In fact, he has already announced these goals.

The people also expect Ilham Aliyev to renew his team by inviting independent, modern thinking managers.

His second task is to carry on the substantiated and balanced foreign policy, which has won the country leading positions in the region and growing interest on the part of global powers.

Aliyev looks especially well against the background of the Georgian puppet, Mikheil Saakashvili, who has pushed his country into a quagmire of uncertainty.

Given the geopolitical situation and Azerbaijan's position in one of the world's key regions - South Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, the global political centers are bound to choose stability, which Ilham Aliyev is currently guaranteeing in Azerbaijan and the region as a whole.

By adhering to the principle of "geopolitical plurality," Aliyev has shown that Russia has been and remains a priority partner for Azerbaijan although it maintains strategic partnership with the United States, Turkey and Europe. The growing role of Russia and Azerbaijan in the world, despite the difference in their sizes, means that they will have more venues of stable cooperation in the future.

In a word, the lack of political intrigue is the main distinguishing feature of the October 15 presidential election in Azerbaijan. But the situation may change by 2013. Will the Constitution be amended to allow Aliyev to run for a third term? Or will he have a deserving successor, male or female, by that time? Or will he use the Russian model of the Medvedev-Putin tandem, which is an interesting way to delegate power without actually surrendering it?

At present, international observers are preparing for the October 15 election. The OSCE has dispatched 480 observers, the CIS 250 and PACE 30. Other international organizations and countries will have approximately 60 observers.

Gyulnara Mamedzade is general director of the Novosti-Azerbaijan news agency.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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