Armenian newspapers highlight the issue of participation of state officials in electoral campaigns in the light of the news about the appointment of Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian as manager of the ruling Republican Party’s campaign ahead of the December 6 constitutional referendum.
“Hraparak” observes that the authorities have grown so insolent that they no longer even consider the option of officials taking a leave of absence from work for the period of electoral processes: “Once there were arguments about whether a state official has the right to take part in election campaigns because the use of administrative resources by him thus becomes obvious. As a solution an official would take a leave for the period of campaigning. But now they, in fact, do not even see the need for that anymore. Yesterday, after a meeting of the executive body of the Republican Party, the ruling party’s spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov said that [Prime Minister] Hovik Abrahamyan will not go on vacation.”
“Zhamanak” suggests that whatever Hovik Abrahamian wishes to get for a successful campaign ahead of the constitutional referendum, he will not get it. “Because in the case of the new Constitution the power in Armenia will become a polycentric structure with counterweights and will no longer have the top of the pyramid…But Abrahamian’s aspirations have always been associated with becoming the republic’s fourth president. And [current president] Serzh Sarkisian knows that well, and that’s why he appointed Abrahamian manager of the campaign in order to fully protect the process of constitutional changes from the risk of his ambitions.”
“Aravot” writes in its editorial: “Everyone organizes their campaigns their own way and tries to find their arguments in favor of or against [the constitutional changes]. But it is safe to say that during the ‘meetings with the people’, the citizens who are the ‘object’ of these meetings will not be talking about the Constitution. People are absolutely not interested in this subject.” The paper’s editor predicts that during such meetings citizens will rather be complaining about unemployment, low wages, high utility bills and emigration.