By Seymur Mammadov

On February 7, 2024, Azerbaijan witnessed an important event in its modern history – the extraordinary presidential elections, which ended with the confident victory of Ilham Aliyev, the current head of state. According to the exit poll conducted by the American organization «Oracle Advisory Group» in conjunction with the League for the Protection of Citizens’ Labor Rights, 93.9% of voters voted for Ilham Aliyev.
According to data from the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev received the support of more than 92% of voters, underscoring not only his personal popularity but also public approval of the continuation of his course. The high voter turnout, reaching nearly 77%, and the extensive participation of observers attest to the significant interest of the population in the elections and their transparency. These elections have become a symbol of a new era for Azerbaijan, covering the entire territory of the country, including the recently liberated areas like Nagorno-Karabakh, and laying the foundation for further development and strengthening of national unity.

Why did the Azerbaijani people vote for Aliyev?

The 2024 election results in Azerbaijan did not come as a surprise to many, confirming the enduring support Ilham Aliyev enjoys among the populace. His victory with more than 92% of the votes reflects the citizens’ trust in his policies and vision for the country’s future. The high voter turnout emphasizes active civic participation and belief in the significance of their vote in determining the course of national development.
Over two decades of his rule, Ilham Aliyev has implemented a series of significant projects and reforms aimed at strengthening the state, its economic prosperity, and international standing. His presidency’s key achievements include not just economic growth and the improvement of the population’s social welfare but also the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, which has become a foundation for national unity and pride.
During Aliyev’s presidency, Azerbaijan showcased impressive economic successes, including a multiple increase in GDP, budget revenues, and foreign trade turnover. These achievements, combined with successful economic diversification, have bolstered economic stability and improved citizens’ living standards. According to the World Bank, Azerbaijan’s GDP grew more than tenfold to nearly $79 billion in 2022. Budget revenues have increased 30 times over the last 20 years, and foreign trade turnover has increased more than tenfold.
The implementation of social reforms and the improvement of living conditions for the population also played a significant role in increasing Ilham Aliyev’s popularity. In recent years, four packages of social reforms have been implemented. The size of pensions and salaries increases each year. Recently, by a new presidential decree, all types of pensions were indexed and increased by an additional 11.2%. The increase in pensions and salaries, along with the indexing of social payments, affirm the state’s concern for the well-being of its citizens.

Reasons for Snap Elections

In December, Ilham Aliyev announced the decision to hold early elections, moving them from 2025 to 2024. This statement generated numerous speculations and assumptions, which were dispelled by the president himself in an interview with local media in early January.
The main reason, according to Aliyev, lies in the complete restoration of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty. The president emphasized that the elections symbolize the end of an important stage in the country’s history, which began with the end of the Karabakh conflict and the restoration of sovereignty. This event marks the dawn of a new era for the nation, making the presidential elections especially significant.
The second argument concerns the features of Azerbaijan’s political system. Considering the presidential governance, Aliyev believes that presidential elections should take place primarily and cover the entire territory of the country, which would not be possible if the original terms were maintained. The first elections in the newly liberated territories will become an important symbol of unity and sovereignty.
The third reason is the 20th anniversary of Ilham Aliyev’s presidency. The president expressed a desire to assess the achieved results and set a new direction for the country’s development. This decision reflects a commitment to progress and the need to move forward, not limiting oneself to the achievements of the past.
Additionally, upcoming international events, including the COP29 summit in Baku, require the concentration of all the country’s resources, which also contributed to the decision to move the elections. This highlights the importance of Azerbaijan’s international status and the country’s ambition to play a key role on the international stage.

OSCE Report

The OSCE mission’s report states that observers at polling stations noted «indications of possible ballot stuffing», which, in their view, «raises questions about the accuracy of the count.» In turn, the Vice-Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Daniela De Ridder, pointed out that «women are underrepresented in the country’s political life.»
Western countries often demonstrate the application of double standards in assessing electoral processes in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, raising justified questions about the fairness and objectivity of such assessments. It is important to emphasize that countries like Azerbaijan are guided by their own election legislation, which not only meets international standards but, in some aspects, even surpasses similar norms adopted in Western countries.
Notably, the 2024 elections in Azerbaijan became a landmark event, solidifying widespread support for Ilham Aliyev and his vision for the nation’s continued development and prosperity. This moment signifies a turning point for Azerbaijan, creating new avenues for enhancing sovereignty, economic growth, and improving the lives of its citizens—laying the foundation for future generations.

The author is an editor-in-chief of Azerbaijan news agency Baku Tribune.