Azerbaijan President Heidar Aliyev is actively promoting his son as the "only viable presidential option" after announcing his withdrawal from the country’s presidential race.
With 10 days to go until the election, the ailing Aliyev publicly endorsed his son, Ilham, for the second time on state television on Sunday.
Admitting his ongoing heart and kidney problems, he reiterated a previous statement made on the nightly news broadcast on state television on 2 October.
But on Sunday, Aliyev said his son was the only real choice on 15 October.
"[Ilham] possesses high intellectual skills, pragmatic thinking ability outstanding knowledge of contemporary world political and economic affairs, and is energetic," his statement said.
The opposition Musavat Party’s Isa Gambar hailed the end of Heidar Aliyev’s 30 year tenure, saying the president’s “authoritarian ruling style had stifled Azerbaijan’s democratic development”.
The opposition candidate went on to publicly attack Ilham Aliyev too, now the sole presidential candidate of the ruling New Azerbaijani Party.
"Can we entrust our lives and the future of this country to a gambler," Gambar said, referring to the widely circulating allegation in Azerbaijan that Ilham has led a playboy lifestyle. "The answer is no."
Gambar made his comments on state television just an hour after the announcement of Aliyev’s withdrawal, utilizing his 10 minutes of air time afforded every presidential candidate under Azerbaijani election law.
“Politics in Azerbaijan is based on the principle of coercion not persuasion"
The other leading opposition candidate, Etibar Mamedov, maintains the only way that the younger Aliyev can win is by resorting to electoral fraud.
Speaking to Aljazeera.net on Sunday, Mamedov said: “Politics in Azerbaijan is based on the principle of coercion not persuasion … Aliyev’s public support for his son’s candidacy will ensure his dynasty continues.”
Both leading opposition candidates insist that a fair vote would result in defeat for Ilham.
But according to Mamedov, Aliyev’s strategy for the dynastic transition has long been clear.
The president and his men are attempting to transfer the elder Aliyev’s iron-man reputation – earned during his membership in the Soviet Politburo – to Ilham, who is a relative political novice.
Ilham has already stressed that he will scrupulously adhere to the political and economic policies forged by his father.
Both opposition candidates believe Ilham will be declared the winner of the presidential 15 October election – “because authorities are widely expected to resort to ballot fraud to guarantee the New Azerbaijan Party retains power”, added Mamedov.
But opposition leaders believe that they can mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters if they consider the elections to be fraudulent.
That opposition supporters would actually take to the streets is not certain, but Mamedov believes Ilham is not the strongman that his father was.
"It would seem to me increase the odds of public dissatisfaction of another 30 years of oppressive rule - this may translate into mass demonstrations."