“Aravot” editorializes ahead of Sunday’s local elections that vote bribes is “the only campaign technique in Armenia.” They may the take the form of food handouts or charitable activities. The paper says the incumbent local government chiefs do not even pretend to be serving ordinary people. “They simply buy power from us, hoping to recoup their expenditures later on.”
“Orran” says few Armenians care who will run their local self-government bodies. No wonder that they will not go to the polls in large numbers. The polls are “extremely dull” also because their outcome is predetermined.
“Or” says the authorities are relying on the state “nomenklatura” in preparations for the local elections. The state bureaucracy is ready to help them manipulate the elections, using more and more elaborate methods. “But this will destroy the country sooner or later.”
In an interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak,” David Shahnazarian of the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) claims that very few local election candidates are trumpeting their support for President Robert Kocharian. This, according to Shahnazarian, proves that Kocharian is very unpopular and does not have “the slightest chance” of winning the February presidential election. “So the stratum on which Kocharian is pinning hopes understands well that it can have real chances in the elections only if it distances itself from Kocharian,” Shahnazarian says. He again makes the point that only Levon Ter-Petrosian and the HHSh are able to remove Kocharian from power.
The leader of the opposition National Democratic Union (AZhM), Vazgen Manukian, tells “Aravot” that “the importance of a single [opposition presidential] candidate is exaggerated.” “I never speak against a joint candidate. But they always mix things up with 1996, saying that [Manukian] won because he was a single candidate,” he says. Manukian says he nearly won the presidency at the time because he embodied a real alternative to then President Ter-Petrosian and was supported by a strong party structure.
But as Communist leader Vladimir Darpinian tells “Hayots Ashkhar, “everything needs to be done to prevent a split of opposition votes.” “If we don’t have a single candidate our electorate can make an unpredictable choice,” he says. Darpinian is confident that the opposition’s candidate will “definitely be pro-Russian.”