“Why do we await the conclusions of election observers so impatiently, if they don’t make any difference?” asks “Aravot.” The paper says Europe gave Armenia a chance to redeem itself during the parliamentary elections. “Alas, we have failed this second test as well,” it says. There was only “very little solace” in the report drawn up by the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
“They again did not realize our mentality,” “Aravot” comments sarcastically. “For example, [they failed to understand] that eight percent of our voters could dash to polling stations at the last minute. Especially when there is a need to ‘paint’ a voter turnout exceeding 50 percent.”
The amazing increase in the turnout figures also draws comments from other papers. “Sahradian has gone beyond all limits,” “Ayb-Fe” attacks the chairman of the Armenian Central Election Commission.
“They rigged, bribed, intimidated and partied,” “Orran” sums up its take on the parliamentary elections. The paper believes that the election results were thoroughly distorted by the authorities.
“Hayots Ashkhar” sees a “clear imbalance and incompatibility between the government and opposition camps” deepening as a result of the elections. “We believe that the absolutely predictable defeat suffered by the opposition in the elections will mark the beginning of its internal consolidation and radical changes,” the paper says. In a separate comment, the pro-presidential paper calls on the Republican and Dashnaktsutyun parties to make mutual concessions and display mutual tolerance.
“Iravunk” writes that President Robert Kocharian has succeeded in shaping a “suspended” parliament where no political force commands an absolute majority and where he will be able to play “the role of an arbiter.”
“Azg” complaints that the pro-Kocharian Ramkavar Azatakan party (HRAK), which controls the paper, was “not allowed to enter the National Assembly for the third consecutive time.” “The obstacles to the development of democracy have grown further and the atmosphere of electoral chicanery in the country has deepened,” the paper writes.
“This time the HRAK was not helped even by [Russian-Armenian tycoon] Ara Abrahamian and [Russian First Lady] Lyudmila Putina’s go-ahead,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” comments gleefully. “One can only wish [HRAK leader] Ruben Mirzkhanian success in the computerization of our schools,” the paper adds, reminding of the party’s controversial campaign tactics.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the biggest election surprise was the success of the obscure United Labor Party led by businessman Gurgen Arsenian. The party won more than 5 percent of the vote, just enough to get into the National Assembly. “This is probably the first case in the history of the Third Republic where a faction is formed in the National Assembly exclusively due to money,” the paper says. It also predicts that the Republicans will try to ward off vote rigging protests from Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir by offering them ministerial jobs.