On 18 July the President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on the direction to the Constitutional Court the draft Act on referendum on amending the Azerbaijani Constitution, providing for the expansion of his extensive powers.
The amendments provide for:
1. The establishment of the institute of first vice president and vice-presidents of the Republic of Azerbaijan. They are appointed and dismissed by the President of the country without any coordination. From now on, if the president is unable to perform the duties of head of state, his powers are transferred to the first vice-president. Under the current edition of the Constitution the President’s powers are transferred to the prime minister.
2. The increase in the presidential term from 5 to 7 years. The President is granted the authority to declare a special election of the President.
3. The minimum age for the candidate for the presidency, which is 35-years-old will be eliminated.
4. The proposed amendment provides for the possibility of the dissolution of Parliament by the President. According to the project , dissolution of Parliament is possible in the following cases: if the Milli Majlis within one year will make two no-confidence votes to the Cabinet , or if it twice does not approve twice after the submission by the President the members of the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, the Board of the Central Bank the number necessary for the activities of these bodies and others.
5. The age requirement of 25-years-old for the election a member of parliament and the right balloting from 18 years old.
The changes include 29 items, and provide for the issues relating to the human rights, ownership, and protection of information.
In general, it should be noted that, firstly, the initiative was launched without sounding public opinion, as is usually done. Secondly, it was presented immediately after a Cabinet meeting at which he announced the 2016 - the year of reforms. Thirdly, it was done in the context of the consistent pressure from the US and allies, demanding reforms and democracy promotion. Fourthly, the decision was made under a deepening economic crisis.
After the publication of the amendments, the right to life have received two versions – neo-monarchy and democratic.
Neo-monarchy. Supporters of this version, which are the majority, speak about the usurpation of power in the hands of the "family", further transference of power to his wife and then to his son, and then complete of the democratic path of development. This version has the right to life from the point of view of the trend of Aliyev’s becoming the head of state since his election as president in October 2003. All these years the company has been watching a constant and progressive movement towards strengthening the personal power of the president and the weakening of the power of his team represented by the Ministers-oligarchs. This became especially noticeable after the defeat of Ministers’ conspiracy in 2005, uncontested presidential elections in 2008 and the subsequent referendum resulted in the abolition of restrictions for two-fold election, and the nominated for second place in the hierarchy of power the Prime Minister instead of the speaker of parliament. The same period was noted by the concentration of huge financial and material resources in the hands of the "family", and turning the oligarchs-officials in managers of family projects. Thirteen-year reign of President Ilham Aliyev has also led to the curtailment of economic and political freedoms, which led to the destruction of small, middle class, and civil society institutions.
Democratic. Very few people believe that that the initiative is aimed at accelerating the implementation of reforms as inevitable necessity to take the country out of a systemic crisis. Basically, the above examples of strengthening personal power of Aliyev to a certain extent played a major role - have weakened his equally reactionary environment that has been formed and
acquired a major financial and political power in the last years of Heydar Aliyev, weakened by disease. The fact that the country was pregnant with reforms and the announcement of the birth has been voiced this year by Aliyev at the July meeting of the government. According to some reports, the reform program, which includes 10 destinations, will be announced in the second half of September. Foreign experts who have experience of reforming authoritarian-type state systems have been involved in its preparation.
To carry out such large-scale reforms, which involve the transformation of the current mafia system into mafia system would require not only political will of its conductor, but also a prompt and decisive action beginning from staff changes, up breaking up monopolies up to creation a transparent competitive environment. Reforms of the state system in 2009, to some extent strengthened the efficiency of decision-making by the president, and have provided a more flexible succession of power from the president to the prime minister in the event of force majeure. However, these actions have intensified the stability of the system, but did not create the conditions for its reforming. The current phase of transition requires even greater efficiency and continuity management. The introduction of the post of vice-presidents, whom the president may appoint or dismiss at his own decision, without the consent, allows ensuring his personal safety and the safety of the entire system in the case of the intervention of any circumstances. On the other hand, it will allow concentrating the operational management of the system of coordinates: the president and vice-presidents, each of whom will be responsible for certain areas of reforms and the spheres.
Increasing the term of office to seven years allows Aliyev to be re-elected in a more legitimate situation than under the current rules of perpetual election. Thus, on the one hand, Aliyev puts an end to increasingly asked question "Who will be next?". And secondly, he opens time for at least the first two stages of reforms to be implemented in 2020 and 2025 years.
Elimination the minimum age requirement - 35 years old for the right to be elected president it can be associated with bringing a new generation of technocrats and politicians who have received a good education and meet modern requirements. According to some sources, the group of experts invited to manage the system of research and the bureaucracy, had come to the conclusion that with the current orthodox team by Aliyev the construction of Singapore in Azerbaijan will not work. The experts recommended to make serious personnel reform involving modern-minded young professionals. This approach applies to staff and to Parliament. With regard to the granting the president the right to dissolve the parliament, it means that, firstly, more dependent and obedient parliament, performing the duty of the approval of laws, and secondly, personnel redrawing of Parliament in accordance with the requirement of an hour, up to the introduction of opposition at some stage.
In favour of a democratic version is the fact that Aliyev has launched this initiative at the period of time when he is exposed to a serious pressure from the US and EU, insisting on reforms, and at the moment when he is making such concessions, as the release of political prisoners, the preparation of the reform program, and others. Without agreeing the referendum issue with Western partners Aliyev would hardly make a confrontation with on the subject of the referendum. Otherwise, as the answer will inevitably be launched the initiative of Congressman Smith on sanctions against the government of Azerbaijan, particularly the Magnitsky Act and other arsenal of pressure on authoritarianism on the part of the United States.
Perhaps, Aliyev has undertaken a mission to reform the system, which was first built by his father, then was strengthened by him. Although it is said "to break is not to build", but, nevertheless, for him, an expert on all the architectural design solutions of the current political system, it will be easier to dismantle in the operational and productive manner.