Citing an anonymous government source, “Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that Armenia’s leadership has already mapped out the composition of the new parliament that will be elected on Sunday. Under that plan, the paper says, the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) will be given 45 of the National Assembly’s 131 seats and will enjoy the backing of “a large group” of ostensibly independent deputies. Another pro-establishment party, Orinats Yerkir, will have the second largest faction with 15 seats. The main opposition forces, Artashes Geghamian’s National Unity and Stepan Demirchian’s Artarutyun bloc, will have only 10 mandates each. As for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), it will have to content itself with just 12 seats. The Dashnaktsutyun leadership, according to the paper, has already refused to accept its share of the pie offered by the Republicans and has decided to fight against massive vote rigging which the implementation of the latter’s plan will require.
Most newspapers continue to report instances of vote buying and other irregularities, hoping to draw law-enforcement agencies’ attention. “Aravot,” for example, says an incumbent parliament deputy from the northern Lori region, Vram Gyurzadian, is distributing “rotten potatoes” to local villagers.
“Golos Armenii” is concerned that the new parliament will be dominated by wealthy businessmen, most of whom have built their fortunes as a result of the widespread post-Soviet “plunder of state property.” They are now keen to persuade the people that they can use their “experience” to Armenia’s benefit, that “they are rich and therefore smarter.” “Those businesspeople are going to the National Assembly only to get privileged conditions for improving their personal affairs,” the paper says.
“Iravunk” predicts that most voters will reject constitutional amendments proposed by President Kocharian. The paper sees much less certainty in the outcome of the parliamentary elections. “This has nothing to do with the likelihood of the elections being fair,” it explains. “It’s just that the rulers have been unable to agree on the final picture of fixed [vote] numbers, and it is very likely that they will never agree.” In any case, the paper says, there will be between 200,000 and 400,000 “falsified votes” this Sunday.
“Orran” says the Armenian authorities are unlikely to heed international warnings that the parliamentary polls must be more democratic than the presidential ones. For them, the paper says, the hefty material benefits of clinging to power outweigh the risk of international sanctions which could result from another fraudulent election. A parliament controlled by the opposition would be in a position to force them out of office. And that’s what counts most, “Orran” concludes.