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by David Stepanyan
The key trends in upcoming presidential election in Armenia are the statements by some candidates that the election outcome is predetermined, which sounds like hysteria and political absurd. However, like “a fly in the ointment of the Republican Party”, the other candidates could spoil the presidential election scheduled for February 18…
Eights candidates are currently running for president of Armenia instead of the initial 15: Incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan, former prime minister Hrant Bagratyan from the Liberty Party. Leader of the Union for National Self-Determination Party Paruyr Hayrikyan, Leader of Heritage Party Raffi Hovannisian, Advisor for Political Issues of the Refugees and the International Law Civil Society Network, ex-foreign minister of NKR Arman Melikyan, Leader of National Accord Party Aram Haroutiunyan, political expert Andrias Ghukasyan, and unemployed Vardan Sedrakyan.
This poor list of candidates makes the Armenian public think that the election is non-competitive and the incumbent president is in the lead in the presidential race, for he has enough administrative, information, financial and other resources to retain power.
It is noteworthy that the authorities have already introduced the scenario and the outcome of the election in figures with help of Aharon Adibekyan, head of the Sociometer Research Center. Thus, in line with that scenario, there will be one round of election and Serzh Sargsyan will enlist the support of at least 72% of voters. The previous elections show that Sociometer has turned into a bureau of faultless political forecasts supported by the leading participants in the political processes. It is noteworthy that another department where David Copperfield’s fans are working has emerged in the country: Department for Visas and Passports of the Armenian Police. According to the given department, the number of voters in Armenia has grown amid growing migration, when dozens of thousands of citizens leave Armenia every year. Thus, on the eve of the parliamentary elections in May 2012 the electoral registers comprised 2,485,844 people, while the preliminary number of voters as of Jan 6 2013 grew by 25,053 people.
In conditions when political heavyweights, Armenian National Congress, ARFD and Prosperous Armenia parties, and ex-presidents Robert Kocharyan and Levon Ter-Petrosyan refused to run for president, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia can easily make president not only the experienced politician Serzh Sargsyan, but also anyone. As a result, after election the president-elect will get a full legitimacy that was under question after March 1 2008. However, the political influence will obviously weaken as a result of the above forces’ refusal to participate in the election. The Republicans headed by Sargsyan already have to persuade the public that the election is competitive. The situation is delicate because most voters support those who refused to run for president and will hardly vote for the Republican candidate just because the so-called opposition does not run for president. That is why the forecasts of sociologists and some politicians are far from severe reality, because the 3/4 of the citizens cannot support corrupt officials, oligarchs and monopolists and impunity and outrage in the country.
Nevertheless, it is obvious that the stereotypes developed in the mentality of the citizens over the long years of political processes in the country cannot be changed easily. Negligence towards public will and prevention of fair elections has led the people into a deep apathy and disappointment. And even the hunger strike of a candidate for president Andrias Ghukasyan, who demands the CEC to cancel registration of the incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan, has remained without a response by the Armenian public that has become absolutely indifferent to everything taking place in the political area. Such negligence is characteristic mainly to authoritarian and totalitarian countries because elections are not an answer to any of the questions the public is really concerned about.
Incidentally, even against the background of the above-mentioned, there is a way out, which by 100% finds room in the Constitution. Except the RPA member Sargsyan, all the rest 7 candidates for president come forward like the opposition and the enemies of the incumbent power. Stemming from this logic, the only way for the so-called oppositionists to prevent the victory of the candidate from the power may be the refusal of candidates to take part in the process, which they themselves call farce. In that case, Serzh Sargsyan will remain the only actor on the scene, on which the authorities have been again performing a tragi-comical farce called the presidential election. And in that case, the authors of this farce have to work hard so that to return the candidates, or to create new candidates for the election. However, in both cases they will be forced to spend much money on delivery of the true power levers, re-distribution of the influence spheres and the pieces of the economic pie. This will undoubtedly result in the domino effect and at least cracks in the ice coated political reality. However, for such development of events, we have to look for something that these 7 candidates lack: at least conscious, political responsibility and aspiration to act not in favor of their own interests but in favor of the interests of their own people. Against such a background, the Armenian voter will have only one hope that the incumbent as well as future president of Armenia will display the above-mentioned accomplishments.