A leader of the governing Republican Party tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that Ruzan Khachatrian, the opposition candidate in the weekend election in central Yerevan, was let down badly by the Artarutyun alliance which nominated her. Galust Sahakian says that by failing to lend any practical support to Khachatrian the bloc “barbarically threw a teammate into the lion’s mouth.”
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” the Kentron election was a litmus test of the seriousness of the Armenian opposition, a test which it failed. “This convincing defeat explains why the leaders of the Artarutyun alliance don’t want to hear about the next elections and rely only on extraordinary revolutionary developments,” writes the paper.
“Iravunk” says Khachatrian’s defeat is a clear indication that most Armenian voters have grown “absolutely apolitical.” It also means that “mobilizing the population to say no at the constitutional referendum will not be quite easy.” “Even the most intensive propaganda is clearly not enough for that,” says the paper. “If the opposition fails to form a united front and concrete local structures the authorities may get a real chance to ensure a ‘yes’ vote at the referendum without using crude force and with purely bribe methods.”
But for “Azg,” the key question is whether government-connected individuals contesting local elections will be equally forceful in campaigning for the passage of Robert Kocharian’s constitutional amendments. “Definitely not,” answers the paper, arguing that wealthy candidates winning parliamentary and local elections have only one objective: to support and multiply their businesses. “The referendum and the constitution are too much of a headache for them.”
“These local elections were a training exercise ahead of the November referendum on constitutional changes,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “It can be said that the war games were a success. In essence, all communities were won by those who will be happy to pay back by trying to ensure at least as many ‘yes’ votes as they received.”
“In the next parliamentary and presidential elections nobody will be beaten, opposition activists will not be taken to police stations, there will be little ballot box stuffing and few numbers will be fixed,” predicts “Aravot.” “At the same time those elections will be very far from European standards.” The paper says the authorities are realizing that it is easier to bribe than intimidate voters.