“Haykakan Zhamanak” says most observers believe that at least three political groups will be represented in the next National Assembly: the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Armenian National Congress (HAK). “The question is whether a couple of other forces will join this troika,” editorializes the pro-HAK daily. It claims that with the BHK and the HAK enjoying considerable popular support President Serzh Sarkisian “will not have the kind of parliament that he has now.” The HAK presence in the parliament will make life harder for Sarkisian, it says.
“Zhamanak” says parliamentary elections held in single-seat constituencies are a breeding ground for “political corruption” in Armenia. “Using its security apparatus, the authorities can ban vote bribes and neutralize those who terrorize and attack voters,” writes the paper. “Instead, the law-enforcement system is placed at the disposal of a particular oligarch or a neighborhood figure [running for the parliament.] Can political corruption be any stronger?”
Gevorg Poghosian, chairman of the Armenian Sociological Association, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that most Armenians do not care about the electoral system. “The voter does not even try to understand reasons and motives for the political debate on the proportional representation and first-past-the-post systems,” says Poghosian. He says most voters do not even know the names of deputies elected to the National Assembly from their constituencies. “Even when we remind they are surprised that a certain person is their district’s deputy,” adds the pollster. “I think the first-past-the-post system is ineffectual. Therefore, the claim that there need to deputies elected from districts in order to take care of the districts’ problems is not founded and justified.”
Interviewed by “Yerkir,” Felix Khachatrian of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), an HAK member, refuses to comment on how many places the HZhK will seek on the HAK’s list of candidates in the May parliamentary elections. “Why are you raising that issue in this way?” he complains to the paper. “We are not demanding anything. We will present our list and so will do the others. As a result of discussions, a common list will be drawn up,” he adds.
In an interview with “Aravot,” Vartan Harutiunian, an opposition-linked human rights activist, criticizes John Prescott, the Armenia co-rapporteur of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), for his positive assessment of the state of affairs in the country. “I am surprised with Prescott’s joy,” says Harutiunian. “John Prescott has failed to adequately perform his duties. During all these years he has always defended the interests of the vote-rigging authorities and is now continuing to stick to that practice.”