The opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Friday urged supporters not to vote for President Serzh Sarkisian in Monday’s presidential election.
“As an opposition political force, we are calling on you to take part in the election, not to vote for the government’s candidate and to vote in good faith or to make your ballots invalid,” the party’s governing body in Armenia said in a statement.
The statement argued that Armenians should not ignore the ballot in order to make sure that their votes are “not used for the government’s reproduction.” At the same time, it defended Dashnaktsutyun’s decision not to nominate or endorse a presidential candidate, saying that the election outcome is “predetermined.” “This pre-election period also testifies to the ‘quality’ of the election,” it said.
Aghvan Vartanian, a senior Dashnaktsutyun lawmaker, was asked by RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) whether this means the party believes the vote will be rigged in Sarkisian’s favor. “In the last 15-20 years the election mechanism has become so sophisticated that election results are hugely affected by the use of government and financial resources,” he replied. “The parliamentary elections [of May 2012] were a brilliant example of that sophistication.”
“When we say ‘predetermined’ we mean that these elections are not competitive, nothing can be changed with these elections in this country and the results are clearly predetermined,” added Vartanian.
Armen Rustamian, another Dashnaktsutyun leader, likewise claimed last week that changing Armenia’s government through elections is impossible now because of a “total abuse of power” by the current authorities.
Dashnaktsutyun, which was part of Sarkisian’s governing coalition until 2009, fared poorly in the May 2012 parliamentary elections, winning just over 5 percent of the vote. It refused to recognize the legitimacy of the official vote results, as did two other major opposition groups, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). Both the HAK and the BHK also did not field presidential candidates.
According to Vartanian, Dashnaktsutyun anticipates a “radical transformation” of the Armenian political scene after Monday’s election and plans to be actively involved in that. In particular, he said, the party will seek to form a broad-based opposition grouping.