Vote 2013: Top pollster says runoff unlikely in next month’s presidential election

Vote 2013: Top pollster says runoff unlikely in next month’s presidential election


Aharon Adibekyan

Armenian top sociologist Aharon Adibekyan all but rules out a runoff in next month’s presidential election where the incumbent president, according to him, is a clear favorite to win.

Adibekyan’s opinion is based on the results of a survey conducted by his Sociometer center in late December. The results of the survey conducted among 1,420 eligible voters across Armenia show that only 52 percent of responds are interested in politics, and only 28 percent have decided who to vote for in the February 18 poll. Only 38 percent of respondents expressed a desire to go to the polls. And 24 percent said they still did not have a decision regarding whom of the candidates to vote for.

“The main task during this campaign will be to bring voters to the polling station to vote for one or another candidate,” said Adibekyan at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Theoretically a runoff is possible, but both [opposition Liberty Party head, ex-prime minister] Hrant Bagratyan and [opposition Heritage Party leader, ex-foreign minister] Raffi Hovannisian must have great organizational and human resource to be able to be represented in all communities of Armenia,” added the sociologist who has often been accused by the opposition of presenting opinion poll figures pleasing the authorities.

So far the Central Election Commission has received full sets of documents from eight potential candidates. Meanwhile, at least 15 people had intended to run for president, but seven of them have failed to present receipts confirming their payment of an electoral deposit.

The main opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC), the “alternative” Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP), the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and some other political parties opposed to the current government refused to engage in the current presidential race. The ANC and PAP also indicated that they would not endorse any other candidate, while Dashnaktsutyun ruled out support at least for the incumbent president.

Adibekyan said the Sociometer poll revealed that if the 28 percent of the “decided” voters went to the polls today as many as 72 percent of them would cast their votes for incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan, 20 percent would vote for Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian, 3 percent would vote for National Self-Determination Union Chairman, Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan, and the remaining 5 percent “remains up for grabs”.

“That may be the share of Hrant Bagratyan and other underdogs,” said Adibekyan.

According to the sociologist, only 10 percent of PAP leader Gagik Tsarukyan’s potential 30-percent-strong electorate have decided to go to the polls in February in the absence of their preferred candidate.

“A third of Tsarukyan votes is likely to go to Serzh Sargsyan, another third to Raffi Hovannisian, and another third may go to Bagratyan or other candidates,” said Adibekyan.

The leading pollster also thinks that Dashnaktsutyun’s position may change things a little.

“This is the most organized political party, and besides public statements they have internal decisions, and everything depends on what internal instructions the ARF Executive Council gives to the rank and file – whether to support Hovannisian or Bargratyan.”