In the crisp winter air of February 2024, Azerbaijan presented the world with a remarkable spectacle of democracy in action. The nation’s election, a testament to the resilience and commitment of its people and institutions towards democratic values, unfolded with an elegance and efficiency that set a new benchmark for electoral processes worldwide. With voter turnout impressively high, the election not only highlighted the citizens’ zeal for participatory governance but also underscored a collective endorsement of fairness, freedom, and transparency.
At the heart of this electoral success was a profound respect for fundamental freedoms, a cornerstone upon which the entire process was built. Citizens of Azerbaijan enjoyed unhindered access to register their votes, a procedure streamlined through technological advancements and administrative foresight, ensuring that every voice, regardless of its bearer’s social or geographical position, was poised to be heard.
The ease with which candidates could throw their hats into the ring further distinguished this election. The barriers that traditionally marred the path to candidacy—excessive bureaucracy, prohibitive costs, or opaque criteria—were conspicuously absent. This openness not only democratized the election further but also enriched the political landscape with a diverse array of perspectives, ideas, and visions for the future of Azerbaijan.
It was democracy in its most vibrant form, where the contest was not just between individuals but between myriad visions vying to shape the nation’s path forward.
Complementing this democratic feast was an exemplary media environment, unparalleled in its freedom and fairness. The media, often termed the fourth pillar of democracy, lived up to its billing by providing comprehensive, balanced, and insightful coverage of the electoral process. From the bustling streets of Baku to the serene landscapes of the Caucasus Mountains, journalists worked tirelessly to ensure that every development, every nuance, and every viewpoint reached the citizens unfiltered and undistorted. This excellent media landscape not only educated and informed the electorate but also played a critical role in safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process by holding all stakeholders accountable.
Moreover, the media coverage was characterized by its breadth and fairness. Newspapers, television channels, radio stations, and digital platforms offered platforms to a wide spectrum of candidates and viewpoints, ensuring that the electorate was well-informed about their choices. This broad and fair media coverage was instrumental in fostering an informed public discourse, enabling voters to make choices based on comprehensive information and diverse viewpoints.
It was a celebration of the freedom of expression, with the media acting not just as a mirror reflecting the electoral process but as a beacon guiding the electorate through the complexities of democratic decision-making.
The 2024 Azerbaijan election was more than just an electoral exercise; it was a powerful demonstration of how deeply embedded democratic values have become in the fabric of the nation. The meticulous organization, the unswerving commitment to fundamental freedoms, and the vibrant participation of the people underscored a collective determination to nurture and protect the democratic ethos.
This election set a precedent, a beacon of hope, and a blueprint for other countries striving to enhance their electoral processes. The lessons from Azerbaijan’s experience are manifold—respect for fundamental freedoms, the importance of an accessible and transparent electoral process, the critical role of a free and fair media environment, and, perhaps most importantly, the power of an engaged and informed citizenry.
As Azerbaijan charts its course forward, buoyed by the success of its electoral process, it stands as a testament to the transformative power of democracy. The 2024 election was not just a victory for the elected or a celebration for the electorate; it was a triumph for the ideals of democracy itself. In a world grappling with the challenges of ensuring fair and free elections, Azerbaijan’s journey offers both inspiration and insight.
It reminds us of the enduring power of democratic values and the possibility of realizing them with determination, dedication, and a deep respect for the principles that underpin a truly democratic society.
Ilham Aliyev’s growing popularity can be attributed to several significant achievements under his leadership, which have had a profound impact on Azerbaijan’s social, economic, and international standing. The following key reasons have been highlighted: The remarkable improvement in Azerbaijan’s economic indicators under Aliyev’s presidency is indeed noteworthy. The leap in GDP from $7.3 billion to $78.7 billion, alongside substantial increases in state budget expenses and strategic currency reserves, reflects a thriving economy. Such economic growth has directly translated into better living standards, with the average monthly salary seeing a tenfold increase and the poverty level dramatically dropping. These figures not only signify economic prosperity but also showcase a government’s ability to enhance its citizens’ quality of life, which naturally boosts the popularity of its leader.
The liberation of Azerbaijani territories that had been under Armenian occupation for nearly three decades stands as a significant national achievement. This victory not only fulfilled a longstanding goal for Azerbaijan, restoring its territorial sovereignty but also resonated deeply with the Azerbaijani people’s sense of national pride and justice. The prospect of displaced persons returning to their ancestral homes further strengthens Aliyev’s standing, embodying a leader who delivers on critical national issues.
Hosting prestigious international events like Formula 1, the Islamic Solidarity Games, and COP-29 has elevated Azerbaijan’s global profile. Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement and its election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council have positioned it as a significant player on the world stage.
Such achievements not only boost national pride but also affirm Aliyev’s ability to leverage diplomacy and international relations to enhance Azerbaijan’s global reputation.
Transforming Azerbaijan into a pivotal hub connecting the East-West and North-South corridors has significant implications for its geopolitical and economic standing. This positioning not only enhances Azerbaijan’s importance in international trade and logistics but also contributes to its security and political leverage, fostering an image of a country that’s not just a passive participant in global affairs but an active, strategic player.
These facets collectively paint a picture of a leadership that has not only focused on economic growth and stability but also on fulfilling national aspirations and enhancing Azerbaijan’s stature on the world stage. Such accomplishments naturally endear a leader to their populace and the international community, contributing to the rise in popularity of Ilham Aliyev.
Dr. Mujaddid is an Associate Professor in Muslim Youth University Rawalpindi holds three Masters and a PhD in Strategic Studies. He is a former Commissioned officer in the Pakistan Air Force for 33 years.