Emil Huseynli - Assistant Director of Trend
Despite that eight months have left for the Presidential elections which will take place in Azerbaijan, public processes commenced both by the government and opposition camp. Again accusation are made, prospects of co-operation are discussed and debates are organized around the idea of single candidate. Unconditionally, the processes mainly take place in the opposition camp because no-one has doubts that the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) and pro-governmental party will support the candidature of the current President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.
The NAP officials have repeatedly stated that the non-alternative candidate of the power will be Ilham Aliyev, who has public image, holds purposeful economic reforms, takes a firm position in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and gained trust of population in his successful foreign policy for strengthening Azerbaijan's position in the international arena. The officials of the pro-governmental Ana Veten Party, Social Welfare Party, Democratic World of Azerbaijan Party, stated that they support this position. NAP officials predicted that their candidate will gain 97% of the votes. If to take into consideration that the hegemon countries highlight the chances of the candidate from the power, it is possible to consider that Ilham Aliyev is a candidate with the biggest chances.
It would not be political nobility to forecast existence of the differences in the power and around its candidate before the 2008 Presidential elections. The peculiarity of the coming elections is that several opposition parties which took radical positions with regards to the power in 2003 Presidential elections stated that they support Ilham Aliyev's candidature. The Chairman of Vahdat Party, Tahir Kerimli, officially stated that he supports the candidate of the power. It is possible to forecast that several other opposition parties will join it.
It is impossible to differently look at the processes occurring in the opposition camp. After the issue of elections appeared, the opposition divided into three fronts. First of them is Musavat Party and Democratic Party, which claim to participate in the Presidential election and consider themselves most oppositional. Musavat put forward candidature of Isa Gambar and Democratic Party - Sardar Jalaloglu. The peculiarity of participation of these parties in 2008 Presidential elections is that Musavat and Democratic activists refused radical political way and make decision on the base of the real processes. It is linked with the issue that these parties decided to participate in the elections. It means that the candidate from the power will have at least two rivals from opposition. However, several scenarios may take place in the political scene. The considered variant is that making concessions to each other, the opposition leaders may withdraw their candidatures. Thus, the alternativity of the candidates was determined and it is considered as an important factor of holding Presidential elections.
Other opposition partiers - Azerbaijan National Independence Party (ANIP) and Open society Party which possess enough voters - took the position of waiting. Making statements on his participation or absence in the elections, the ANIP Leader, Etibar Mammadov, wanted to know the position of the power and opposition with regards to him. It these positions satisfy him, it is fully possible that the ANIP leader will also join the elections. Otherwise, the new ANIP Chairman may put his candidature for presidency. It
The second group includes the oppositional Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, Liberal Party, Citizens and Development Party united in Azadlig bloc who intends to boycott the elections. In fact, Lala Shovkat, the leader of LPA will not take part in the elections. Lala Shovkat has not been engaged in active policy since her defeat in 2003 presidential elections. Therefore, Shovkat has lost her electorate for the last three years admitting the complicated situation and kept away from the big political projects. If bloc Azadlig takes part in the elections, Lala Shovkat will definitely support Ali Karimli.
The fact that Ali Karimli who is good at his radical speeches, does not take part in the elections is attributed to his failure. The PFPA chairman of understands that claiming the post of president, he will be outvoted not only by the government candidate, but also by his opponent Isa Gambar. Therefore, by choosing boycott as the most appropriate way, he wants to call the attention of the international community and to restore his lost political image. Ali Aliyev, the chairman of Citizens and Development Party, unlike the other co-chairmen of the bloc demonstrates loyalty as to taking part in the elections. His loyalty accounts for the fact that unlike Kerimli and Shovkat, Ali Aliyev frequently informs the press of bloc's possible participation in the elections. On the other hand, Ali Aliyev understands that it is early for him to be nominated for the presidential elections and he will use his potential in the forthcoming elections.
The oppositional Popular Front of Unified Azerbaijan, Civil Solidarity, Democratic Reforms Party, and Umid party, included in the Union for Democracy and belonging to the third group, announced their intentions to nominate their candidate for the elections. Their participation in the elections will further raise the choice that will minimize their chance to win the elections. Eldar Namazov, who is considered to be neutral candidate, can be included in the list as well.
Opposition will take part in the elections with a minimum of 10 candidates.