Saturday, March 17, 2012

Armenian Parliamentary Election Preview

Emil Danielyan previews Armenia's upcoming parliamentary elections:
"With a flurry of conventions and behind-the-scenes discussions, Armenia’s leading political forces have officially begun preparations for upcoming parliamentary elections that will be critical for the political future of President Serzh Sargsyan. The election campaign is shaping up to be essentially a three-horse race between Sargsyan and his two predecessors, Robert Kocharian and Levon Ter-Petrosian. Despite their deep-rooted mutual antagonism, the former presidents now seem to share one strategic goal: to strip the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) of its parliamentary majority and thus deal a massive blow to Sargsyan’s plans to win reelection next year...

"The main threat to the realization to the HHK’s plans clearly emanates from the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) of businessman Gagik Tsarukian, a junior partner in Sargsyan’s governing coalition. Tsarukian, who has long been regarded as a Kocharian protégé, enjoys a populist appeal with mostly lower-class people stemming, in large measure, from his large-scale (and often questionable) benevolent activities. The beefy tycoon has also used his wealth to build a nationwide network of well-to-do and government-linked loyalists, which is essential for doing well in less than free and fair elections...

"Yet as things stand now, Sargsyan and his party remain the election favorites thanks to their control of virtually all electoral commissions, vast government and financial resources at their disposal, and their ample experience in vote manipulation. The HAK warned late last year that it will stage sustained street protest if the authorities rig the upcoming elections. But with Armenians traditionally showing strong interest only in presidential elections, the opposition bloc’s ability to mobilize large crowds come May is in serious doubt. Attendance at regular HAK rallies in Yerevan steadily decreased in 2009-2011. Besides, it is far from clear what Tsarukian’s BHK will do if it also considers official vote results falsified."

Election Day is May 6.



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