By Ruzanna Stepanian
A leading sociologist sees the positive image of the late prime minister as well as the fear of change by a large army of state officials as the main reasons for the ruling party’s landslide victory in last month’s parliamentary polls.
Aharon Adibekian on Tuesday revealed the results of the most recent survey conducted by his Sociometer center showing that many of more than 450,000 voters who gave their votes to the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in the May 12 vote did so to preclude possible drastic changes in government institutions.
At the same time, the sociologist downplayed the impact of large-scale vote buying allegedly practiced by the HHK on the party’s ultimate success.
“No matter how much makeup you use, you can’t make a woman, who is ugly from birth, look beautiful,” Adibekian explained, figuratively, adding that cases of election bribes were few and insignificant during the latest elections.
According to Adibekian, a major event that won many people’s hearts was the death of the Republican Party’s long-serving leader and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian in late March, only weeks before the legislative polls, in which his party’s main contender was expected to be wealthy businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s pro-presidential Prosperous Armenia party (BHK).
Adibekian admitted that two of his pre-election forecasts proved wrong. One of them, he said, was the BHK’s de-facto crushing defeat as it eventually received half as many votes as predicted by the leading sociologist, and secondly was the better-than-expected performance by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) that received more votes than expected.
Adibekian’s pre-election analysis put the BHK in a position to receive some 32 percent of the popular vote, but the party finished only a distant second with less than 15 percent.
The sociologist says the BHK party membership figures had been largely inflated and that Gagik Tsarukian was misled on that. “It was a fake,” Adibekian said, adding that his center’s estimations gave the party a maximum of 100,000 members, which is in stark contrast with the 400,000 membership figure declared by the BHK leadership before and during the election race.
Besides, Adibekian said, the BHK followers had certain financial expectations, which were not satisfied.
In contrast, he hinted, Dashnaktsutyun managed to secure more votes ostensibly using vote buying methods.
Overall, Adibekian said that the parties that based their election strategy on negativism fared poorly, and on the contrary the ones that built their campaign around positive platforms proved more successful.