The focus of this paper is the shifting perceptions of the state, leadership and politics, and the shifting perceptions of Azerbaijanis themselves and the outside world. The information presented in this article is based on personal interviews conducted with leading and influential members of the Azerbaijani political elite in Baku in August 1998 and April 2009. Attitudes and norms concerning the state, leadership and politics emanate from three sources: the legacy of the pre-Soviet (Turkish) period, the Soviet period, and the circulation of western democratic values and norms. This reflects the impact of historical and cultural forces that have shaped the lives of the political elites and are manifested in their understanding of contemporary governance. A powerful state and a strong leader mutually reinforce each other where the leader is perceived as responsible for the well-being of its citizens. In this context, the article examines the conflicting narratives of the government and the opposition in Azerbaijan while reconstructing their national past and building their future, where their past becomes an important source for the mentality of governance in the country.
Middle Eastern Studies, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00263206.2012.661370