Elections in Armenia and Switzerland : a lot of differences

I was quite surprised when I was asked to write about my personal opinion towards the election campaign. As a foreigner (from switzerland) living in Armenia for five months now, I got used to the country and to its rules.

In order to introduce the situation of the two countries, a few facts are here given. The size of Switzerland and Armenia are quite similar. The Caucasian country is 29.800 km² and the other 41.285 km². The population is 7.508.700 in Switzerland and 3.215.800 in Armenia. So we can say, that the two countries are quite close on what refers to the size. Although the population is different, we can still say that it is in the same scale.

The first thing that came into my mind about the differences between the electoral situations of Armenia and Switzerland, is that the parties are not classified by their “left” or “right” ideas. The left parties (usually the socialist party, Die Linke and SPD in Germany, PS in France and the Labor party in the UK), fighting fore more taxes and more social security in the country, trying to give more advantages to poor people. The right parties, like CDU in Germany, UMP in France who are more conservative parties want less taxes for more economical development, having an economical politic that is as liberal as possible giving more advantages to the companies and the rich people. This division into two sides, two political views and philosophies is in my mind not so present in Armenia, where we focus more on the personal views and ideas of one or the other candidate.

I also think that the armenian candidates are quite aggressive to each-other. On the 8 of December, Levon Ter Petrofina compared the current regime in Armenia to the Tatar-Mongol regime. On the other hand Serzh Sargsyan told that his main concurrent, Levon Ter-Petrosian is losing the sense of reality. That the two main candidates allow themselves to criticize and almost insulting each other like that is for me quite shocking.There is another difference between the legislations of the two countries that regulate the election time where the candidates can put some advertising for themselves in the street, the radio or the TV. In Switzerland, there is no electoral time like that, the different parties can start to advertise whenever they want. In Armenia it is illegal to make some advertisement for the elections out of the electoral campaign time.

Concerning the criteria of the voters, they are of course also very different between Switzerland and Armenia, the socioeconomic situation and the different problems of the two countries being very different.A colleague told me that Armenian people want a president who guaranties a peaceful country, enough food and money for everyone to live decently and also security and the respect of the law. A neighbor told me, that what she expects from the new president is someone who rules the country with authority, making the taxes to be paid and erase the corruption. The Swiss people on the other hand are paying more attention to the economical situation of the country and the immigration problems. Moreover, the personality, the intelligence and communicative skills of the politician are important in both countries.As a last example of the voting differences, we can mention the process of voting itself. In Armenia, everyone has to go to the voting station of the district with his passport, mark the person one wants to elect and put it into a box. In Switzerland everybody gets its voting documents at home by post and then sends them back or carry them to the voting center.

In conclusion we can say that there are many differences between the electoral traditions of these two little countries.

 Stéphane Maffli

5 thoughts on “Elections in Armenia and Switzerland : a lot of differences

  1. Reply

    […] Armenian Observer features a guest post by a Swiss ex-pat worker in Armenia who compares how elections are conducted in Europe with how they are conducted here in the South Caucasus. Share […]

  2. Reply
    Observer - 21.12.2007

    Way to go – Stephane! Great article.

  3. Reply
    Observer - 23.12.2007

    Nazarian – what do you mean? My German is very poor, so I couldn’t understand a thing.

  4. Reply

    […] Hopefully, more candidates will follow their example and actually talk about issues rather than personalities, and cease from engaging in mud-slinging. […]

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