Gevorg Poghosian, chairman of the Armenian Sociological Association, tells “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” that President Robert Kocharian will enjoy a substantial advantage over his rivals in the February presidential elections. He also predicts a rather low voter turnout: “about 55 percent.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” claims that opposition leaders are trying to heighten political tensions in a bid to offset their lack of popularity. It argues that “in the midst of mutual threats and violence accompanying them, victory and defeat would equal each other.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian Communist Party (HKK) has withdrawn from a left-wing opposition alliance led by Artashes Geghamian less than a week after its formation. The paper quotes the HKK second secretary, Sanatruk Sahakian, as saying that the Communists never agreed to team up with Geghamian. “And in general, the HKK does not intend to join forces with the Socialist Armenia bloc, among whose leaders is Ashot Manucharian, because that political force does not enjoy the Communists’ support,” he says. But Geghamian insists that HKK leader Vladimir Darpinian did sign the alliance’s founding declaration.
“Every time the Communists fool their partners and violate an agreement reached earlier, Darpinian goes to hospital,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” comments with irony. Leaders of the 16-party opposition coalition have tried, unsuccessfully, to clarify why the HKK all of a sudden struck a separate deal with Geghamian.
One of them, Albert Bazeyan, tells “Orran” that Geghamian, the HKK and Socialist Armenia have, in fact, “fooled themselves.” “They could have informed the other members of the union, instead of acting under the cover of darkness,” Bazeyan says.
“Azg” says Geghamian sees a serious rival in HZhK leader Stepan Demirchian, who is making inroads on his traditional electorate. Geghamian therefore needs to “find a milieu in which he would be considered an undisputed leader.” But his decision to bank on Socialist Armenia and the Communists has not paid off, as Demirchian now looks set to rally a broader opposition alliance around his candidacy.
Even the pro-Kocharian “Golos Armenii” accuses the Communists and Manucharian of playing “yet another dirty game.” “Geghamian’s participation in it would hardly contribute to the increase of his approval rating,” the paper says. “The treason committed by these three parties will cost them dearly and the votes of the opposition masses will go to other parties’ joint candidate.”
“Iravunk” is intrigued by Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s expected management of Kocharian’s reelection campaign. “This will once again prove how lonely the current president is in his entourage. Even now he can not trust anyone [except Sarkisian],” the paper concludes.