Vote 2012: Election campaign kicks off in Armenia

Sunday saw the start of a four-week parliamentary “official” election campaign in Armenia.The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Heritage/Free Democrats and the Communist Party of Armenia were first to launch.

The main demand of the opposition forces - the Armenian National Congress (ANC) bloc, Heritage and the ARF is the return of power to the people. ARF representative Armen Rustamyan said at a presentation of the party’s program on Monday that Armenia should change its form of government from presidential to parliamentary. He also stressed the priority of eliminating the concentration of all power in the hands of the ruling party, as in such a situation it fuses with the state.

ANC coordinator Levon Zurabyan also stated that their main task as well as motive for setting up joint monitoring headquarters with other opposition parties is the liquidation of the monopoly of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA). “We need to mobilize the society around a very simple task – to end the current Republican majority in the parliament, and then there will be a totally different situation. And it is around this issue that we are consolidating the society and political forces,” said Zurabyan.

Ex-foreign minister Vartan Oskanian, who is now number two on the list of candidates of the RPA’s current junior coalition partner, the Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP), stated recently that a “true coalition” will be formed as a result of the May 6 elections to the National Assembly. He said the RPA will no longer be able to foist its will on others, as it can do in the current coalition that Oskanian said was of a “formal” nature.

During the presentation of his party’s program Heritage’s founding leader Raffi Hovannisian gave assurances that the new Armenia will be a law-abiding state and not a state of “the poor and humiliated”. “For the first time in the history of modern Armenia we are going to return the power to the people,” said Hovannisian.

The United Armenians Party, which embraces representatives of the scientific community and other intelligentsia, also notes that their goal is to turn Armenia into a real “social and law-abiding state”, which will have the rule of law, where everyone will be equal before the law, where human rights will be protected.

Oddly enough, the RPA, which has an overwhelming majority in parliament and has concentrated power in its hands, too, speaks about the need to return power to the people. The RPA’s junior coalition partner, Orinats Yerkir, fully backs this thesis, as do the Democratic Party and the Communist Party that also entered the fray. Apparently, it is with them that the Republican Party intends to establish a future coalition.

Meanwhile, the monopoly of the RPA is obvious.

Opposition parties have signaled an increase in the number of voters at the expense of citizens who stay abroad. During meetings with foreign observers ANC leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan indicated this fact, however, so far neither the police nor the ruling party have given a clear answer to the question how the population keeps shrinking and the number of voters keeps rising.