“Aravot” editorializes that Armenian voters know little about all presidential candidates except Robert Kocharian. They can only rely on the televised advertisements which present the contenders in favorable light. “If we believe those ads, they are all like exclusive, very durable goods of high quality, with a five-year warranty on top of that,” the paper notes sarcastically. “Occasionally, the promised quality does correspond to reality. But that happens very rarely.”
“Orran” says Hanrapetutyun party leader Aram Sarkisian’s Friday visit to the Shirak province and its capital Gyumri “blew up the legend” about strong pro-Kocharian sentiment in the region.
“Haykakan Zhamanak,” for its part, is encouraged by Artashes Geghamian’s trip to the central Aragatsotn province. “The much talked-about atmosphere of fear, on which the authorities are pinning so much hope, is broken,” the paper declares.
Newspapers also carry fresh polling data on the candidates’ electoral chances. “Haykakan Zhamanak” says “more or less objective opinion polls” show that the popularity gap between Kocharian and the main opposition candidates is narrowing. Furthermore, according to the latest survey by the independent Center for Election Techniques, the cumulative opposition rating is steadily growing and currently stands at 49 percent, against Kocharian’s 21 percent. “So if the opposition manages to act with a single candidate, Robert Kocharian will stand a zero chance of winning the upcoming presidential election,” the paper writes. Geghamian is already signaling his readiness to quit the race in support of another “more electable” candidate. Namely, Stepan Demirchian. This, the paper concludes, would mark a “turning point” in the election campaign.
A poll cited by “Aravot” shows that Kocharian would get 29 percent of the vote in Yerevan if the elections were held this Sunday. Demirchian is shown as consolidating his status of the most popular opposition candidate. His rating has surpassed the 11 percent mark, up 2 percentage points from the previous poll conducted last week.
Another researcher, Samvel Chshmaritian, tells “Azg” that Kocharian will win the elections without resorting to vote falsification, like it happened in 1991 when Levon Ter-Petrosian’s victory was accepted by everyone. But Chshmaritian also predicts that Armenia may have to hold another, pre-term presidential election as early as this summer, shortly after the May legislative polls. He says everything depends on who will control the next Armenian parliament.
“Hayots Ashkhar” claims that the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) is in no rush to endorse an opposition candidate because that could only damage his chances. That is why, the paper says, the HHSh is only urging the opposition to come up with a joint candidate. But its main objective is to challenge the legitimacy of Kocharian, the likely winner of the February 19 ballot.