Newspapers supporting Robert Kocharian are not upset with the first results of the presidential election, saying that he will win anyway.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” says the authorities “accepted [news of] of the second round of the elections normally and without bayonets despite opposition expectations” of the contrary. This fact leads the government-funded daily to assert that the democratization process has become “irreversible” in Armenia and that the opposition forces have failed to “discredit our state and people in the eyes of the international community.”
“Yerkir” says the first round showed that the Armenian leadership is committed to establishing “justice, free elections, a fair society and a fair state.” The Dashnaktsutyun-controlled weekly says Kocharian “has already won.” “The people have begun to believe that they can determine the course of the country’s development with their votes,” it writes. “Yerkir” also accuses the opposition of heightening political tensions and spreading false accusations of vote rigging. Stepan Demirchian, it says, has been defeated.
“Azg” focuses on what it sees as serious differences inside the opposition camp. “By trumpeting mass vote irregularities the opposition at least admits that it was unable to avert them and let the voters down,” the paper argues.
“Hayots Ashkhar” acknowledges that the elections were “not flawless,” but says both sides were guilty of fraud. The paper says the reported irregularities could not affect the outcome. It also accuses the opposition of tarnishing Armenia’s image abroad. “One should look ahead and think about preventing a repeat [of the irregularities] in the second round of the presidential election and the upcoming parliamentary elections.” The opposition should “learn lessons from its defeat,” “Hayots Ashkhar” concludes.
Newspapers sympathetic to the opposition have a diametrically opposite take on the developments. They believe that the run-off was announced only because the authorities feared street protests.
“The people yesterday took to the streets and showed who is the master of this country,” declares a jubilant “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “The people took to the streets and showed that their patience has a limit. The people took to the streets to demonstrate that they, only they have the right to decide who is to hold the presidential post in this country.”
“The people proved yesterday that they did elect, that they stand by their choice and that the people have leaders,” agrees “Orran.” “Stepan Demirchian won in the first round; there is no need for a second round. The Central Election Commission must officially declare Demirchian’s victory.”
“Iravunk” claims that the February 19 vote was the most fraudulent in Armenia’s history. “But the active participation of voters disrupted the Kocharian camp’s calculations,” it writes. The paper says the opposition should keep up pressure on the authorities by holding more rallies and presenting more evidence of vote rigging. It says the opposition must make sure that the CEC lowers Kocharian support to 42 or 43 percent. “Iravunk” is convinced that Kocharian will be defeated on March 5.
“Aravot” says the opposition is right in demanding more accurate and verified results of the ballot from the CEC. “If the CEC refuses to do that, we will have to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the president for five more years regardless of the outcome of the second round,” the paper says in an editorial.