By Ruzanna Khachatrian
A senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) admitted on Wednesday that the pro-establishment party’s election campaign has not yet had desired effects because of widespread public apathy with politics. Ruben Hakobian also offered a skeptical look at Armenia’s purported transition to democracy.
Hakobian, who currently works as Armenia’s consul-general in Russia’s second largest city of Saint-Petersburg, complained that most Armenians show little interest in the election platforms of Dashnaktsutyun and other major parties. “We face serious problems here because the people are mainly apolitical and cynical about parties,” he told RFE/RL.
Dashnaktsutyun, which supports President Robert Kocharian, hopes to substantially increase its presence in Armenia’s leadership by making a strong showing in the May 25 parliamentary elections. Some local analysts believe that the nationalist party eyes the post of prime minister currently held by Andranik Markarian, the leader of the Republican Party (HHK). To achieve that Dashnaktsutyun will have to win at least as many parliament seats as the Republicans will.
Hakobian, who took a leave of absence from his main job pending the elections, would not be drawn into his party’s chances of electoral victory, saying only that it will get “more than 10 seats” in the 131-member National Assembly. The HHK, for instance, controls 38 seats in the outgoing legislature.
Hakobian was a member of all three post-Soviet parliaments of Armenia and was one of Dashnaktsutyun’s top figures until his posting to Russia three years ago. He holds the 10th spot in the list of the party’s parliamentary candidates.
In a remark unusually frank for a government official, Hakobian deplored what he said is a lack of progress in the democratization of Armenia’s political system, implicitly alluding to the authorities’ handling of the recent presidential election. He claimed that the both Armenian government and ordinary people do not realize the importance of ensuring that the May 25 polls are more democratic. “There is no realization that this is our common good,” he said.