By Astghik Bedevian
Having failed to form election alliances, Armenia’s main opposition forces look too divided to also closely cooperate with each other in trying to avert massive fraud in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Some of them have called for the creation of an umbrella structure that would enable the opposition to jointly monitor the Armenian authorities’ conduct of the election and counter attempts to falsify their results. Only one top opposition leader, Artashes Geghamian, has backed the idea so far, however.
“The issue of joint opposition oversight [of the electoral process] is becoming imperative,” Gagik Tadevosian, a senior member of Geghamian’s National Unity Party (AMK), said on Wednesday.
In his words, that would mean ensuring close interaction among members of election commissions affiliated with opposition parties. The proposed structure would also have to organize joint opposition rallies and coordinate other “post-election processes,” said Tadevosian.
But other opposition heavyweights have serious misgivings about the wisdom of such an arrangement. “We are against setting up structures that won’t work,” said Stepan Zakarian of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK). “What powers should that structure have?”
Another, more radical opposition party, Hanrapetutyun (Republic), rejected the idea out of hand, saying that Geghamian should have shown greater willingness to join opposition alliances in the first place. “United is a nice word,” Aram Sarkisian, the Hanrapetutyun leader, told RFE/RL. “The people making such a proposal are trying to capitalize on the effect of that word.”
“A joint campaign headquarters would make sense only if the opposition acted in a united front,” Sarkisian said. “When the opposition is acting in a divided manner, that means we are all rivals.”
Hanrapetutyun is angry at both the AMK and the HZhK for rejecting its repeated calls for the formation of a broad-based opposition bloc. Geghamian and HZhK leader Stepan Demirchian, who were President Robert Kocharian’s main challengers in the 2003 presidential election, seem to have concluded that they are popular enough to do well on their own.