“Ayb-Fe” writes that campaigning for the Armenian parliamentary elections has proved very dull as the contenders do very few “new and fresh” things.
Other newspapers decry vote buying reported from electoral districts across the country. “Aravot” says the illegal practice is becoming even more widespread than it was before. Many parties and individual candidates, the paper says, have realized that the people no longer believe in mere promises and will give their votes only in return for tangible benefits.
“Yerkir” points out that Article 18 of Armenia’s Electoral Code explicitly bans candidates from handing out “money, food, securities, goods or services” to voters during election campaigns. Election commissions must immediately alert courts or other law-enforcement bodies if they register vote bribes. The paper says this provision is widely flouted by many candidates. “Nobody has yet heard of any punishment,” it says. “Yerkir” concludes the commentary by urging Armenians not to sell their votes.
“Hayots Ashkhar” is highly pessimistic about the professional and intellectual level of the next Armenian parliament. It will be a “parliamentary club of large businessmen and bankers.” The paper which staunchly backs President Robert Kocharian says the outcome of races in the 56 single-mandate constituencies will be decided by “money, administrative resources, political rating and neighborhood connections.” Still, government levers will not be as important as they were during the presidential elections because of serious differences among the parties supporting Kocharian.
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” it is money that will count most in these elections. “The next National Assembly will be an arena of competition between several large industrial and banking groups whose interests already collide in the current parliamentary race. Those groups will, in effect, swallow and fully digest the majority of parties languishing in the political stage with their primitive social populism by rendering the latter the lackeys of their own interests. But who will protect the interests of workers and unemployed citizens who make up about 95 percent of the population? Their interests will practically be not represented in the next parliament.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Kocharian does not want the Republican Party (HHK) to have a majority in the parliament because he realizes that he “can alleviate the crisis of legitimacy caused by the disgraceful presidential elections only through changes, particularly personnel changes.” He could do that only if the HHK does not control the next parliament. What Kocharian needs is to have a pro-presidential majority made up of “several pieces.” The paper says Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian is also not interested in the strengthening of the HHK leader, Andranik Markarian. It claims that Sarkisian himself would like to win control over the National Assembly through dozens of loyalists affiliated with the HHK and other pro-Kocharian groups. He is not even averse to becoming parliament speaker. “He would assume presidential duties in the event of Robert Kocharian’s resignation,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” concludes.