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Equality Party (Azerbaijan)


Equality Party (Azerbaijan)

Musavat Party
Müsavat Partiyası
Leader Isa Gambar
Founders Mammed Amin Rasulzade, Abbasgulu Kazimzade, Taghi Nagioglu
Founded 1911 (1911)
Ideology Modern:
Social liberalism,
Economic liberalism,
Liberal nationalism
Classical liberalism
Political position Centre
International affiliation Liberal International
European affiliation European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
Colors Blue
Politics of Azerbaijan
Political parties

The Müsavat (Equality) Party (Azerbaijani: Müsavat Partiyası) (Arabic (مساواة) "equality, parity") is the oldest existing political party in Azerbaijan. Its history can be divided into three periods: Early (old) Musavat, Musavat-in-exile and New Musavat.

Early (Old) Musavat (1911–1923)

Musavat was founded in 1911 in Baku as a secret organization by Mammed Amin Rasulzade, Mammed Ali Rasulzade (cousin of Mammed Amin Rasulzade), Abbasgulu Kazimzade and Taghi Nagioglu. Its initial name was a Muslim Democratic Musavat Party. The first members were Veli Mikayiloghlu, Seyid Huseyn Sadig, Abdurrahim bey, Yusif Ziya bey and Seyid Musavi bey. Early Musavat members also included future Communist leader of Azerbaijan SSR Nariman Narimanov.[1] This initiative was coming from Mammed Amin Rasulzade, who was then living in exile in Istanbul.[2]

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See also:
Politics of Nagorno Karabakh
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The Musavat's programme, which appealed to the Azerbaijani masses and assured the party of the sympathy of the Muslims abroad, announced the following aims:

1. The unity of all Muslim peoples without regard to nationality or sect.
2. Restoration of the independence of all Muslim nations.
3. Extension of material and moral aid to all Muslim nations which fight for their independence.
4. Help to all Muslim peoples and states in offence and in defence.
5. The destruction of the barriers which prevent the spread of the above-mentioned ideas.
6. The establishment of contact with parties striving for the progress of the Muslims.
7. The establishment, as need might arise, of contact and exchange of opinion with foreign parties which have the well being of humanity as their aim.
8. The intensification of the struggle for the existence of all Muslims and the development of their commerce, trade and economic life in general.[3]

In its early years before the first world war, Musavat was a relatively small, secret underground organization, much like its counterparts throughout the Middle East, working for the prosperity and political unity of the Muslim and Turkic-speaking world.[4] During this time, the Musavat party supported some pan-Islamist and pan-Turkist ideas.[5][6][7][8][9] Pan-Turkic element in Musavat's ideology was a reflection of the novel ideas of the Young Turk revolution in Ottoman Empire. The founders of this ideology were Azerbaijani intellectuals of Russian Empire, Ali-bey Huseynzadeh and Ahmed-bey Agayev (known in Turkey as Ahmet Ağaoğlu), whose literary works used the linguistic unity of Turkic-speaking peoples as a factor for national awakening of various nationalities inhabiting the Russian Empire.

Although Musavat espoused pan-Islamic ideology and its founder was sympathetic to the pan-Turkic movement, the party supported the tsarist regime during the First World War.[10] Russia's social democrats received the foundation of Musavat in what they considered "imperial, orientalist terms, governed by the long-standing ideological categories of Muslim backwardness, treachery and religious fanaticism",[11] as a betrayal of historic proportions. In the words of one Soviet analyst, Rasulzade and the Muslim social democrats of Baku had "made a 180 degree turnaround straight from Bolshevism to pan-Islamism".[4] This was a potent and tenacious charge, targeting the Muslims as deviant and disloyal minority within the empire, manipulated by the "traitorous Musavat".[3]

The Menshevik and Social Revolutionary parties of Baku, both largely dependent upon the support of selected Georgian, Armenian and Jewish cadrees, as well as upon the ethnic Russian workers, had long vilified the Muslims as "inert" and "unconscious".[4] For them as well as for Bolsheviks, Constitutional Democrats and Denikinists, the Musavat, by default, was the false friend of social democracy, just a party of feudal "beks and khans". These accusations, centerpieces of a paranoid style in social-democratic politics, have endured in the historical literature far beyond their origins.[4] But this form of attitude also alienated predominant Muslim groups from Russia's mainstream social democrats, as Musavat's shifting politics and populist slogans started receiving bigger appeal among the Muslim worker audience. Musavat leaders were largely well-educated professionals from the upper class echelons of Azerbaijani Turkish society; its mass membership, most recruited between 1917 and 1919, comprised the poorly-educated Muslims underclass of Baku.[4]

Early Musavat under Rasulzade leadership

After the Amnesty Act of 1913 dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, Mammed Amin Rasulzade returned to Azerbaijan and undertook party leadership. Despite the party still being secret, Rasulzade managed to found newspaper the newspaper Achig Soz (1915–1918), in which Musavat's aims and goals, this time polished and defined in Rasulzade's interpretations, were implicitly advocated. Only after the February Revolution, when Musavat ceased to be a secret organization and became a legal political party did the newspaper officially become the party's organ.

The Baku Committee of Muslim Social Organizations, as well as the Musavat, were quite radical during the early days of the February Revolution: they wanted a democratic republic, which would guarantee the rights of Muslims.[12] The Soviet historian A. L. Popov writes that the Musavat cannot be a priori classified as a reactionary party of Khans and Beks, because in the early revolutionary period the Musavat stood on the positions of democracy and even socialism. "Until a certain time the Baku Committee of Muslim Social Organizations and the Musavat party successfully fulfilled the mission not only of representing the general national interests but also of guiding the Azerbaijani workers' democracy".[13]

On June 17, 1917, Musavat merged with the Party of Turkic Federalists, another national-democratic right-wing organization founded by Nasibbey Usubbekov and Hasan bey Agayev, taking on a new name of Musavat Party of Turkic Federalists.[3] Thus, Musavat became the main political force of Caucasian Muslims.

In October 1917 Musavat convoked in its first congress where it adopted new covenant, with 76 articles. Particularly, new covenant[14] said:

Article 1: The form of the state of Russia should be a federative democratic republic based on principles of the national autonomy.
Article 3: All ethnicities having territories of compact inhabiting n any part of Russia should receive national autonomy. Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkistan and Bashkortostan should receive territorial autonomy, Turks living along the Volga and the Crimean Turks should receive a cultural autonomy in the case of impossibility of territorial autonomy. The Party considers as its sacred duty to support any non-Turkic ethnicities’ quests for autonomy and help them.
Article 4: Ethnicities having no exact territory of compact inhabiting should receive national cultural autonomy.

Musavat became the tenth largest party elected to the Russian Constituent Assembly(1918).[15]

Musavat in ADR Government

After the disintegration of the Russian Empire and the declaration of independence of Azerbaijan, Musavat became the leading party of the newly established Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, holding the majority of mandates in its parliaments, at first in Azerbaijani National Council and then in Parlaman ("parliament"), Rasulzade being its first head of state (28 May 1918  – 7 December 1918). Under the Musavat's leadership, Azerbaijan in 1918 became the first secular democracy in the Muslim world. A year later, in 1919, Azerbaijani women were granted the right to vote,[16] before the U.S. and some European countries.

The following Musavat members held positions in successive ADR governments:

First cabinet (May 28, 1918 – June 17, 1918)

Second cabinet (June 17, 1918 – December 7, 1918)

Third cabinet (December 12, 1918 – March 14, 1919)

  • Kh. Khasmammedov – Minister of Interior
  • Nasib bey Yusifbeyli – Minister of Education and Religious Affairs
  • Kh. Sultanov – Minister of Agriculture

Fourth cabinet (March 14, 1919 – December 22, 1919)

  • Nasib bey Yusifbeyli – Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister)
  • M. Y. Jafarov – Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • N. Narimanbeyli – State Inspector
  • Kh. Khasmammedov – Minister of the Interior

Fifth cabinet (December 12, 1919 – April 1, 1920)

  • Nasib bey Yusifbeyli – Chair of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister)
  • Mammad Hassan Hajinski – Minister of Interior
  • Kh. Khasmammedov – Minister of Justice
  • M. Rafiyev – Minister of Social Welfare and Health

After the fall of the first Republic in April 1920 as a result of the Bolshevik invasion, Musavat switched to secret activities again, by forming a secret committee, in which even famous Azeri playwright Jafar Jabbarli participated. The committee's most famous action was the preparation of the Rasulzade's flight from the Russian SFSR to Finland. Overall, Musavat prepared and conducted several armed insurgency operations, e.g. the rebellions of Ganja, Karabakh, Zagatala and Lankoran. But the Soviets also repressed Musavat by arresting at least 2,000 members of Musavat up to 1923. Most prominent Musavat members thus were killed, exiled or escaped abroad and the party ceased all its activities within Azerbaijan in 1923.

Musavat in exile

Activities of Musavat in exile begin in the end of 1922 and in the beginning of 1923. in order to coordinate and lead these activities Mammed Amin Rasulzade established a Foreign Bureau of Musavat in 1923, but also created the Azerbaijani National Center in order to coordinate their activity with other Azeri political immigrants not affiliated with Musavat. Istanbul became the center of Musavat-in-exile in the 1920s and early 30s, before moving to Ankara in the late 1940s.

Members of the Foreign Bureau

  • Mammed Amin Rasulzade, chairman
  • Mirza Bala Mammedzadeh, secretary
  • Khalil bey Khasmammadov, treasurer
  • Shafi bey Rustambeyov
  • Mustafa Vakilov
  • Mammad Sadig Akhundzadeh
  • Abbasgulu Kazimzadeh

Members of the Azerbaijani National Center

  • Mammed Amin Rasulzade
  • Khalil bey Khasmammadov
  • Mustafa Vakilov
  • Akbar agha Sheykhulislamov
  • Abdulali bey Amirjanov

Chairmen of Musavat in exile

  • Mammed Amin Rasulzade (1917–1955)
  • Mirza Bala Mammedzadeh (1955–1959)
  • Kerim Oder (1959–1981)
  • Mammad Azer Aran (1981–1992)

Newspapers and journals published by the Musavat Party in exile

  • Yeni Kafkasya journal (1923–1928), Turkey
  • Azeri Turk journal (1928–1929), Turkey
  • Odlu Yurdu journal (1929–1931), Turkey
  • Bildirish newspaper (1930–1931), Turkey
  • Azerbaycan Yurd Bilgisi journal (1932–1934), Turkey
  • Istiklal newspaper (1932-?), Germany
  • Kurtulush journal (1934–1938), Germany
  • Musavat Bulleteni (1936-?), Poland, Turkey
  • Azerbaijan (1952-current), Turkey

New Musavat

The resurrection of Musavat in Azerbaijan came in 1989, during the second independence of Azerbaijan. A group of intellectuals created the "Azerbaijan National Democratic New Musavat Party". Later that group formed the "Restoration Center of the Musavat Party" and was recognized by Musavat-in-exile. In 1992 delegates of New Musavat and Musavat-in-exile gathered in the "III Congress of Musavat" and formally re-established the party as the Musavat Party. One of the leaders of the Popular Front, Isa Gambar was elected its chairman. He remains its leader as of 2013. The party structure consists of "Başqan" (Leader), "Divan" (Executive Board), and "Məclis" (Congress).

Since 1993, Musavat has been in the opposition to the ruling New Azerbaijan Party. At the last elections (5 November 2000 and 7 January 2001), the party won 4.9% of the popular vote and two out of 125 seats. As the party's candidate, its leader Isa Qambar won 12.2% of the popular vote in the 15 October 2003 presidential elections. At the parliamentary elections of 6 November 2005, it joined the Freedom alliance, and won inside the alliance five seats. Musavat is also known for its protests against the Azerbaijani government such as that took place on 16 October 2003, after Isa Qambar had lost the election,[17] as well as on March 12, 2011.[18]

The party has alleged that the Azerbaijani government has been seized by leading politicians of Kurdish, Talysh, Armenian or other ethnic groups of non-Turkic origin.[19]


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