By Ruzanna Stepanian
Many Armenians on Friday appeared to have not yet decided who to vote for in the weekend parliamentary elections despite one month of aggressive campaigning by the country’s leading political parties.
Random polling by RFE/RL on the streets of Yerevan showed that a considerable part of the electorate lacks enthusiasm about the elections seen as a major test of Armenia’s democratic credentials.
Some local pollsters and international election experts have similarly found widespread voter apathy in the run-up to Saturday’s ballot. The head of the Yerevan office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Vladimir Pryakhin, cited late last month OSCE surveys showing that most Armenians are reluctant to go to the polls. Visiting Yerevan earlier in April, members of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly also found a “lack of popular interest in the election process by the electorate.”
“I’m not going to vote for anyone,” said one middle-aged man in Yerevan. “They are all plunderers and crooks,” explained another.
Many other respondents said they plan to vote but have not yet picked a party or an individual candidate. “I don’t know any of the candidates well enough,” said one woman. “I’ll probably decide tomorrow.”
“I’ll decide later today,” said an old man. Another elderly respondent said he will consult with his wife and children before casting a ballot.
Most of those polled said they have not been offered a vote bribe. “If they offer me a bribe, I’ll take it but will vote for my preferred candidate,” said one male voter.
Many voters were also skeptical about government pledges to ensure the freedom and fairness of the elections. “They can’t be free because there are no prerequisites for such elections,” one of them noted grimly.