Early Parliamentary elections in Armenia: Voters will be voting ‘against’, not ‘for’
All current and former leaders of the country are participating will participate in parliamentary elections in Armenia on June 20, 2021. However, according to many political scientists, instead of confrontation between ideologies and programs, the upcoming elections will turn into a struggle between acting Prime Minister Pashinyan and the opposition bloc.
Based on the results of numerous polls, it can be concluded that a significant part of society does not want to participate in this struggle at all.
Those who do go to the polling stations on Sunday will mainly vote agains rather then for someone. When voting electing Pashinyan, people will actually vote against the former government. ones. If they do vote for opposition, voters will essentially be voting against Pashinyan.
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Although there is no shortage of participants in early parliamentary elections, with a total of 21 parties and 4 blocs participating, experts single out 5 main competitots:
- The ruling party “Civil Contract”, headed by the acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan;
- Its main rival and political opponent, the Hayastan bloc of the country’s second president, Robert Kocharian;
- I Have The Honor bloc of the third president Serzh Sargsyan and former head of the National Security Council Artur Vanetsyan;
- Prosperous Armenia Party of prominent businessman Gagik Tsarukyan;
- Armenian National Congress of the first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan.
The Enlightened Armenia Party proposes a “third way”, but its voice is hardly heard in the noisy and sharp confrontation between Pashinyan and the former presidents. The pre-election slogan of Enlightened Armenia is “There is an alternative, vote!”
In such circumstances, the election campaign often receives a fake agenda full of personal abuse.
Despite the defeat in the second Karabakh war and the associated threats to the country’s security, the main theme of the election campaign is the struggle among former ( and current) authorities.
Awareness of problems, the search for their solutions, and just talking about the future are almost invisible in the stream of tough statements by political teams addressed to each other.
It seems that in the heat of political disputes, it was forgotten that Azerbaijan has placed almost 1,000 of military personnel in the border regions of Syunik and Gegharkunik.
Although a number of deep-seated dangers and problems threaten Armenia, they did not become the subject of serious pre-election discussions,
Black and white, wolves and wolfhounds, ‘old’ and ‘new’
The election campaign is also characterized by an unprecedented number of expressions that can be described as “hate speech”, as well as several mutual insults. All this is done publicly, at rallies and meetings with voters. Subsequently, it is broadcasted on TV screens, and disseminated on social media.
One of the most commonly used words in pre-election campaign is vendetta, said Human Rights Defender of Armenia Arman Tatoyan․
“This cannot go on like this”, he said in a statement released in the early days of the campaign.
“All political forces must exclude insults and abuse, any words related to hatred and violence”.
But the words of the Ombudsman remained unheard.
A few days before the end of the election campaign, one of Pashinyan’s supporters presented him with a hammer, which, in his opinion, was supposed to symbolize “the transition from velvet control to a steel mandate”.
On June 17, Kocharian’s supporter presented him with a sickle, urging him to “develop agriculture”.
Naturally, social media reacted instantly, exhibiting a collage in which Pashinyan and Kocharyan are depicted as a worker and a peasant woman holding a hammer and sickle, copying the famous Soviet sculpture by Vera Mukhina.
The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, which, it seems, should have played a key role in these elections, is mainly considered at the level of promises and phrases “strengthening the army”, “normalizing the economy”, “preparing for a new war” or “returning Hadrut and Shushi by negotiations”.
“Enlightened Armenia” proposes to create a professional army staffed by contract soldiers, remove 18-20-year-old conscripts from the front line, equip about 540 km of the new border with Azerbaijan with new technologies. When asked how and for what funds they give a short answer: “We need to develop the economy”.
Prosperous Armenia has its own recipe for solving the security problem – one of deepening the military-political alliance with Russia.
“It is necessary to deepen this alliance, together with our military-political ally, restore the potential of the Armenian army and, if necessary, prepare for new challenges”, said Arman Abovyan, secretary of the Prosperous Armenia faction.
Despite the presence of the 102nd Russian military base in Armenia, a joint Armenian-Russian military group, membership in the EAEU and the CSTO, Prosperous Armenia is convinced that additional integration of the two countries is also necessary.
The ruling party’s main rival, the opposition Armenia bloc, also favours deepening ties with Russia. The bloc’s leader, Robert Kocharian, the second president of Armenia, who is considered a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview with Sputnik, called on the two countries to carry out “complete integration”.
However, he did not explain how he sees this “deeper cooperation”. In particular, is it about the creation of a “union state”, similar to what Russia is now offering Belarus.
Nikol Pashinyan, leader of the ruling Civil Contract party, considers Russia a panacea for solving Armenia’s security problems, calling it “our number one security partner”.
It is difficult to say how such superficiality is perceived in the discussion of the participants in the election campaign, accompanied by a huge dose of mutual insults, a Sevan fisherman, a villager living in Shirak, or residents of Syunik, Tavush and Gegharkunik, who daily feel the danger from Azerbaijan on the border.
However, various political forces continue to bring people from different parts of Armenia to Yerevan by buses to participate in their rallies. Those people are hard workers, use this opportunity to wander around the city centre, visit shops and enjoy the delights of metropolitan life. Sometimes it seems that these and the politicians live on different planets.
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