Armenian media continue to focus on the row between two opposition groups over nominations in Armenia’s single-mandate constituencies where nearly a third of parliament seats will be contested in the May 6 vote.
“Hayots Ashkhar” suggests that Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian’s withdrawal from the race pitting him against Nikol Pashinian, a senior member of the bigger opposition group, Armenian National Congress (HAK), will do little to resolve the much wider differences that the two factions have had lately. “Moreover, the step by the Heritage party leader only aggravates these differences and makes the rivalry among the opposition candidates even more obvious,” the paper claims.
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” speculates that just like it was a year ago when Hovannisian staged a 15-day hunger strike in Yerevan’s Liberty Square Heritage’s leader, again, has managed to appear in the midst of the struggle between the HAK and the government and get his share of media spotlight for a few days. “Remarkably the propaganda message in both cases is the same: see how evil this HAK is and how highly moral a person I am,” writes the daily.
The “Aravot” daily’s editor suggests that Hovannisian’s quitting the race to avoid jostling with his rival oppositionist shows that political ambitions are secondary to him: “Can you imagine what the HAK [propaganda arm] would do to him hadn’t he withdrawn his candidacy?.. I regard this step by Hovannisian as a display of his personal qualities rather than the expression of his party’s stance.”
“Yerkir” writes on the upcoming race in Yerevan’s electoral district N7 from the point of view of the HAK candidate’s competition against affluent businessman Samvel Aleksanian in an area that has long been regarded as his fiefdom. Aleksanian declined Pashinian’s invitation to a televised debate around political issues, saying that he did not consider this opposition candidate to be his main rival. “The problem is not in this oligarch, because no one would expect him to act in a different way. The problem concerns the political force [the ruling Republican Party] that has supported Aleksanian in the race… When a candidate that you back refuses to have debates, it means that public accountability and civilized methods of campaigning are not acceptable to you, either. And this already challenges the sincerity of assurances that the vote will be fair and transparent,” the paper comments.