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As the first week of campaigning for the February 18 Presidential Elections draws to the end, Azatutyun.am is featuring a great slideshow of the US-born candidate Raffi Hovhannisian pioneering western style campaigning in Armenia.
Randomly greeting people and talking to them in the street, shops and other public settings during election campaigns may be the norm for politicians in the West but is highly unusual in Armenia. The U.S.-born opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian is doing just that in his ongoing presidential election campaign. The Photolur news agency followed his first campaign outings in Yerevan.
Meanwhile, the campaigning of the other 7 candidates can be roughly classified into two subgroups 1) Presenting programs; 2) Fooling around and seeking media attention.
The incumbent president, Republican party leader Serzh Sarkissian and the former prime minister, opposition lawmaker and head of insignificant “Azatutyun” party Hrant Bagratian are the only candidates actually talking about real issues, including taxes, education, healthcare, social security, army, foreign relations.
The other candidates, including the head of National Self-Determination Union (NSU) Paruyr Hayrikyan, former Karabakh FM Arman Melikyan, unemployed and self-styled “epos specialist” Vardan Sedrakyan, head of National Accord party Aram Harutunyan and director of Radio Hay Andreas Ghukasyan are fooling around, seeking media attention and wasting everyone’s time.
It is clear at this point that the whole intrigue of the elections will be whether Raffi Hovhanisian or Hrant Bagratian will come second after Serzh Sarkissian, who will definitely win a clear victory. Both Hovhannisian and Bagratian seem to resonate well with the voters, but the atmosphere of apathy, cynicism and expected low levels of participation in the polls will determine the results of the elections.
PS: I had a word or two with the President’s spokesperson Armen Arzumanian, who didn’t rule out the possibility that there might actually be a debate between the presidential candidates this year. Now that would make the campaign really interesting!