Trust and Distrust in Political institutions in Azerbaijan

[This is a guest blog post by Anar Valiyev, Azer Babayev, Hajar Huseynova and Khalida Jafarova, prepared in the framework of the Research Beyond the Ivory Tower project of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors alone, and may not reflect the views of CRRC-Armenia, CRRC-Azerbaijan, or CRRC-Georgia.]


This blog post is based on research on (dis)trust in political institutions in Azerbaijan. Internationally, levels of trust in political institutions often reflect how well these institutions perform in relation to citizens’ expectations. This is not necessarily the case in Azerbaijan. Although survey results consistently show that trust in the President is high, crucial political institutions such as Parliament and local government are less trusted and, overall, the level of trust is not very high. This is important because of two implications: on the one hand, high levels of political trust can aid economic development and political stability. Distrust in political institutions, on the other hand, can lead to low voter turnout and the weakening of democratic reforms. Allegedly, it may also lead to corruption


As in other post-Communist states, in Azerbaijan, political distrust is historically rooted. Even during the Communist regime, trust toward state institutions was not high due to high levels of corruption, nepotism and mismanagement of institutions. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, declining trust levels and poor public management have led to political apathy and low membership in political organizations.


In Azerbaijan, which is a presidential republic, trust in the President and trust in other institutions of the executive government differ from each other. While, according to CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey, 56% of the population reports trust and 22% distrust in executive government, e.g. the Ministers, 84% of the population reports trusting the President of Azerbaijan. However, only 39% of the population reports trusting local government. Attitudes towards local government are also reflected in very low turnout during municipal elections – 32% in 200923% in 201139% in 2014. It is possible that people do not see much value in participating in these elections due to the ineffectiveness of municipalities.


In order to address the issue of distrust in political institutions, the government should take immediate action by making the work of state institutions transparent and public, educating the public on the importance of state institutions, and involving the public in the decision-making processes.

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