“Less then a week to go” for the elections, says Onnik Krikoryan finding himself sitting in a restaurant with other foreign journalists, “Nobody is expecting post-election street protests to achieve anything if only because the opposition is divided”, and also because the people attending the “impressive rally in Liberty Square last week” are middle aged people and pensioners – you just don’t do revolutions with those people.
ICHD blog (am) is literally disgusted by how predictable these elections are going laying out the scenario of just how everything will look in Armenia on May 13, 2007 – the day after elections:
Rulling elite: a couple of cosmetic changes 
TV: soupe opera; soup opera; news: a couple of reports on official meetings and news from abroad; some scare movie
Public life: troubled faces thinking of making a living …and slumber: steady and absorbing.
“Not much happening” says Notes from Hairenik, “political climate is pretty boring” – and gives an account of what the biggest Pro-Government parties are up to:
The Republican Party of Armenia is being very arrogant in its confidence that it will by far win the majority of seats. Prosperous Armenia also feels it will win a sizable share, but seems to be more humble in its claims as its leader, Gagik Tsarukian, who is arguably the richest man in Armenia, is a fairly down-to-earth guy. The ARF-Dashnaktsutiun had another rally yesterday in front of Moscow Cinema claiming that it promises to raise the minimum wage and the average monthly pension…
Joint Opposition Campaign Rally, Liberty Square, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia for EurasiaNet 2007
Oneworld Multimedia is of course much more eloquent on covering the elections, covering all sides of the political spectrum with stunning photos and commentary, although I don’t think all these boring talking heads of different parties are worth any of Onnik’s efforts. Some of the recent campaign trails covered by the blogger are On The Campaign Trail — Heritage [party] – about which Onnik says “Given the small number of people in attendance it’s hard to believe that Raffi Hovannisian or Heritage could become the controlling party in the National Assembly after 12 May”; On The Campaign Trail — Republican Party – where the blogger notes, that “as the 12 May poll draws ever closer, we’re still not sure as to the real level of support for the ruling party in Armenia with some polls indicating it might be as high as 34 percent, while others say 13 percent”; Radical Opposition Rally Attracts Thousands – remarking about this joint rally of Impeachment block, Republic and New Times parties: “RFE/RL says that the event, held to prepare opponents of the government for post-election street protests, was the largest held by any party to date”. This last rally surely did attract a lot more attention also from other bloggers, some sounding exalted like Aramazd(am), some unimpressed like the freedomfight777(am) and E-channel(am), some bored as Kornelij Glas(ru) saying he knows exactly what each speaker will say, and some simply mocking like Narjan(ru):
Two guys were standing along, and a third came by saying: “See, this is what I call rally! Not like your Bargavach [Prosperous Armenia] – they can’t collect even ten people without money”.
So, here’s the last, but not least from Oneworld Multimedia campaign trails: Thousands Attend Another Opposition Rally – about the “Orinats Yerkir” party, which calls itself opposition, and about which Onnik Krikoryan has a lot of kind words:
Although many opposition and civil society activists dislike him, the party led by former National Assembly Speaker Artur Baghdasarian managed to attract thousands.
More significantly and unlike those opposition parties calling for revolution instead of trying to campaign, most of those attending were young.
Probably it is the only genuine pro-Western political party in Armenia.
Well, looks like even the recent spy scandal didn’t hurt Orinats Yerkir.
Artur Baghdasarian, Orinats Yerkir Campaign Rally, Shengavit, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia for EurasiaNet 2007
Sometimes I have to wonder if the traditional “radical” opposition hasn’t exhausted itself and lost credibility among the population. The number one complaint I hear from people here is that they don’t believe that the opposition is any better than the incumbent parties of power. In that sense, the emergence of Orinats Yerkir as opposition, even if they are not as radical as some might like, seems logical.
Anyway, the overall feeling from the people I’m talking to here is that they don’t care about this election, don’t think anything will change regardless of who comes to power, and many won’t vote at all. Of course, it’s not a scientific or extensive poll so as I said, it is only what I’m picking up from a broad range of people I’m talking to. Basically, I think a sizeable number of people won’t vote or haven’t decided yet.
However, with all of that said, this is pretty much what I’m picking up from a small sample of various types of people. Among those over the age of 35, but below 45, many say they won’t vote because they don’t see any difference between any of the parties. Interestingly, some of those who said they wouldn’t vote were actually Republican party members. However, I think they’re members because the company they worked for was owned by the son of Andranik Markarian.
Nevertheless, apart from one person who called both Prosperous Armenia and the Republican Party “mafias” that would unite after the election, most were neutral or positive in terms of what they said about Gagik Tsarukian. Unlike those parties who promise to create jobs, Tsarukian has, they said. The situation among some students, however, was somewhat different.
Two said they would vote for Raffi Hovannisian’s Heritage, another for Aram Gaspar Sarkisyan (not Vazgen’s brother), while two said they would vote for Prosperous Armenia. Three wouldn’t vote at all, while another two would vote against all. One would vote for the Republican party. Interestingly, none mentioned the “radical opposition” or Orinats Yerkir, but as I said, these results shouldn’t be taken as anything meaningful.
Just some reactions from when I do raise the issue of who people will vote for. Nevertheless, despite the huge amounts of money distributed among civil society to engage the population in the electoral process, voter cynicism and apathy seems to prevail. I don’t think there’s any disputing that, at least.
Regarding the Republican Party – my feeling is this is the party without any loyal electorate. This is the party where people are because of their job/profession/personal profit, hence, the minute Republicans fall off government, those people will abandon the party.
Regarding Bargavach, ARF and MAK – interestingly MAK (Arsenyan) doesn’t seem to want to campaign at all, I wonder what he is hoping for? ARF – I like them, but they should never be allowed to have more then 10% vote in this country, otherwise they’ll ruin us. On the whole, this is the party that is indeed a party. Bargavach – when I hear member of their political council speaking I like what I hear. When I look at Dod – I want to puke 🙁
Coming to the traditional opposition – I am simply disgusted, and don’t want to see any of them! Why don’t they go bury themselves for good?
Regarding the new opposition: Aylyntranq, Orinats Yerkir, Hairitage, etc. – I don’t see any real strength and cause behind them. No real ideas, no know-how, no nothing! I kinda liked Aylyntranq, but when I see all this HHSh stuff going on in it, I understand that we should avoid Aylyntranq (Impeachement) as much as we can.
Conclusion – I won’t go to the elections because there’s nobody I can vote for…
I don’t think you’re alone in that feeling, I fear. Yet, interestingly, “tactical voting” is a big thing in western democracies, but doesn’t seem to ever be mentioned here.
Re. Arsenyan yeah. Trying to track him down has proven difficult for me. I have a campaign office near as dammit on my doorstop, but it’s always padlocked shut. Weird, innit?
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