Artak Sahradian, chairman of Armenia’s Central Election Commission (CEC), comes under attack from the pro-opposition press over his Monday remarks at a seminar in Yerevan. They are construed by those papers as proof that the authorities do not intend to hold a clean election this time around.
“Orran” and “Haykakan Zhamanak” see mounting friction between the Republican and Dashnaktsutyun parties. “A big fight is expected,” writes “Orran.” The paper claims that the authorities have already printed hundreds of thousands of ballots pre-marked for their candidates and will stuff them into ballot boxes before the start of voting. It also says that the opposition Artarutyun alliance does not command the popular support its leader, Stepan Demirchian, enjoyed during the presidential election campaign.
“Iravunk” says that the authorities are doing nothing to punish those guilty of electoral fraud. For one thing, state prosecutors have made it clear that they will not comply with the Constitutional Court’s demand to investigate irregularities reported during the presidential election. This, the paper says, means that the May 25 elections will hardly be more democratic. “Furthermore, the biggest fraudsters of the presidential election demand a compensation, in the form of parliamentary mandates and executive levers, commensurate with their services. That provokes huge inner-government tensions.” In these circumstances, the Armenian opposition could play a “stabilizing role” in the country.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says Armenian voters do not have a big choice of ideas despite the abundance of political parties. All of them espouse “social populism.” The paper says the parliamentary race has already brought to light new demagogues misleading the people. Compared to them, the opposition leaders “might seem balanced and serious politicians.”
As “Iravunk” reports, infighting is not confined to the pro-presidential camp. The paper quotes a spokeswoman for Demirchian’s People’s Party as attacking the National Unity party of Artashes Geghamian for its “strange statements” directed at Artarutyun. “One gets the impression that they fight not against Robert Kocharian, but Stepan Demirchian,” she says. “They make allegations that do not correspond to reality.”
Geghamian faces similar accusations from the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh). Its deputy chairman, Khachatur Kokobelian, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that Geghamian as well as the Armenian Communist Party have “betrayed their being false opposition forces” since the March 5 second round of the presidential election. Kokobelian says even pro-Kocharian parties such as Orinats Yerkir are now posing as an opposition.