(Saturday, March 3)
“Aravot” tries to explain why Armenia’s leading opposition parties have failed to form any election alliances. “Those parties that think they can overcome the five percent barrier are not interested in uniting with anyone. Conversely, those who think they will not succeed alone are seeking to form a bloc or become ‘embedded’ with one or another electable party.” The paper sees “nothing terrible” in the lack of opposition alliances, saying that opposition parties can cooperate with each other during the elections even without fielding common candidates.
“Hayots Ashkhar” predicts the inevitable defeat of Armenia's radical opposition on May 12. “Today everyone finds it their duty to make grandiose statements that if election results are rigged they will lead the people to the streets,” editorializes the paper. “But even if the radicals try to lead people to the barricades they won’t achieve anything. In fact, they have no masses prepared for extra-parliamentary activities.” It says their leaders are “extremely scared” of the elections because of their unpopularity. “Hence, ridiculous statements befitting clowns, rather than politicians,” concludes the paper.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” blames the authorities for the failure of last week’s opposition talks on the possibility formation of an election bloc. The authorities, says the paper, have drawn “serious lessons” from the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2003. “In 2003, the opposition managed to at least partially unite, as a result of which its rallies were attended by 100,000 people. There was a danger that if the opposition managed to close the ranks again, it would again rally 100,000 people and would not repeat its mistakes of 2003.”
According to “168 Zham,” it is not just opposition parties that will be competing with each other. The paper says political forces supporting President Robert Kocharian have also failed to field single candidates in most of the 41 constituencies. “Judging from the partisan diversity of candidates, it can already be said that May 12 will see an interesting struggle,” it notes.
“Hayk” reports that Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian handed out housing certificates to more than 50 army officers and their families during a visit to the southeastern Syunik province earlier in the week. The opposition paper considers this to be a pre-election publicity stunt aimed at shoring up the governing Republican Party and Sarkisian’s brother Aleksandr, who is running for parliament in a local constituency.