“Hayots Ashkhar” summarizes the first ten days of the Armenian election campaign. “In the absence of serious political programs and new ideas on the one hand and a bipolar government-opposition standoff on the other, the political meaning and content of the campaign takes the form of a competition among party leaders,” writes the paper. “That is, the parliamentary race is taking on the meaning and content of a mini-presidential contest which is putting the majority of the 2008 election contenders to the preliminary test.”
“In general, an election campaign is not the best time for serious conceptual debates,” writes “Azg.” “It is usually characterized by the prevalence of emotional elements, easy-to-sell populism, as well as radical revolutionary tinges. In this sense, the Armenian campaign is no exception. One can hold the first ten days of a campaign very successfully and then realize that all the bullets have been fired, all the statements have been made.”
“The rates of vote bribes are growing day by day,” reports “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “Whereas a single vote could be bought for 2,000-5,000 drams during the previous elections, now the size of a vote bribe has reached 25,000-30,000 drams. The Prosperous Armenia is the most generous of those handing out vote bribes. It is ready to give voters a lot more, if necessary.” The paper says that the Republican Party (HHK), by contrast, is “not quite inclined to hand out big bribes during these elections” and will use its “immense administrative levers” instead. “The heads of all schools and state institutions in general are obliged to collect each 30 signatures of people, along with their passport data, in support of the HHK,” it claims, adding that those who will fail to do so will lose their jobs.
According to “Hayk,” the HHK and Prosperous Armenia (BHK) are not willing to share power with other parties after the death of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian. “Following Serzh Sarkisian’s appointment as prime minister an extremely tough struggle is going on within the government over every [parliament] seat,” says the paper. “HHK statements that they are now aspiring to an absolute majority [in the next parliament] are but a warning to their partners not to expect [the HHK] to honor previous agreements.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” says that Serzh Sarkisian has found a “cunning” way of avoiding accusations that he campaigns for the HHK during his work hours. The paper says Sarkisian’s campaign trips to various regions are formally presented as “officials visits by the prime minister of the Republic of Armenia.” “But this has not prevented Serzh Sarkisian from giving lavishing pre-election promises and singing the HHK’s praises,” it says.