Exit polls show president achieving 93.9% support, rising to nearly 100% in Karabakh.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev is set to win a towering victory in his country’s election, according to exit polls.
The contest is the first held since Azerbaijan took control of Nagorno-Karabakh, also claimed by Armenia.
Turnout was strong, with election officials saying that over 70% of eligible voters cast ballots during the first nine hours of 11-hour voting.
Elections in Azerbaijan have seen the ruling Aliyev and his father before him garner more than 80% of the vote, with international monitors criticising the polls as neither free nor fair – a description the government rejects.
This year’s vote, which Aliyev only announced last month, was boycotted by the two main opposition parties, and took place under increased restrictions on the media.
Assuming Aliyev’s win is confirmed, he will be set up for another seven years in power. While the election was not a true multiparty affair, the victory in Nagorno-Karabakh last year has notably raised the level of public support he enjoys.
The region and large swathes of surrounding territory came under full control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia at the end of a separatist war in 1994.
Azerbaijan regained parts of Karabakh and most of the surrounding territory in 2020 in a six-week war, which ended with a Moscow-brokered truce. In December 2022, Azerbaijan started blockading the road linking the region with Armenia, causing food and fuel shortages, and then launched a September blitz that routed separatist forces in just one day and forced them to lay down arms.
More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians fled the region after the defeat of separatist forces, leaving it nearly deserted.
Azerbaijan, which is a major producer of oil and gas, is preparing to host this year’s global climate change summit, COP29. Aliyev is also under pressure from European allies over his country’s ties to Russia even as the war in Ukraine continues.