Vote 2013: Political perspectives, platforms, promises

The upcoming presidential election is “unprecedented”, according to some analysts.

On the one hand it is assumed to be the “intrigue-free election”, since the main intrigue had been on whether Armenia’s ex-presidents and current oligarch would run.

From the other side, the election is expected to be marred not as much by fraud, as during previous elections, but rather by public apathy. Many even believe that on the upcoming election there will be no handing out election bribes, since the main candidate has no formidable opponent.

Meanwhile, the election campaign is being marked by some candidate's application to withdraw from the election or from the election campaign, or by hunger strike, and while experts predict how the political landscape in Armenia will be changed after such an insignificant election, candidates hold campaigns and familiarize the electorate with their political perspectives.

Republican Party leader, President Serzh Sargsyan’s election programs’ preface starts with the incumbent’s assurance that Armenian people “shall be living in a much better Armenia in 2018”. The program consisting of 6 chapters, includes “Spiritual unity of people as prerequisites of second-generation reforms”, international relations, economy, social security, public administration system, balanced development of territories chapters. Among other things Sargsyan’s program promises that income of Armenian families will be at least doubled, any newly created family will have the possibility to purchase an apartment or a car, while a strong, traditional Armenian family with many children will become the norm. The Karabakh issue will be within the focus of the President’s activities, the tax and customs structures will be internationally competitive to encourage business, pension reforms will lead to a fact that a citizen’s pension will be enough for living a decent life, culture will enhance the connection of Armenians worldwide ensuring and preserving our unique place in the dialogue of civilization.

Raffi Hovannisian, the founding leader of the opposition Heritage party, whose slogan is “ It is possible” says he will ensure equal taxation for all and a dissolution of the shadow economy, which will relieve the tax burden that currently falls most heavily on small and medium businesses. In his election platform, consisting of 15 chapters he says that development of science, and accessible education should be in focus of the government and funding for education should make 5.5 percent out of GDP. Teachers salaries should be increased by 20 percent. Health care should be accessible to everyone. Hovannisian vows to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state, increase key government expenditures and raise pensions by 50 percent, to increase funding for defense during one year, to create at least 180,000 new jobs with the help of Diaspora.

The main campaign slogan of the leader of "Liberty" party Hrant Bagratyan is “Only 100 steps to social solidarity.” In his conception of political reform consisting of 10 points Bagratyan suggests in particular moving to a 100% proportional system of elections, introducing paid compulsory military service, providing wages for military men 20% higher than the average salary of public sector employees. Bagratyan has also a special slogan for the regions - "Armenia is not Yerevan only”. The presidential candidate promises bringing cooperatives to the villages, but does not promise creation of jobs. He says when the state initiates major projects, jobs are created automatically.

Candidate Andrias Ghukasyan hopes with the support of civil society it is possible to establish public control over the property of senior officials and their families. A candidate who announced that the target of his struggle is not the presidency, but the inherently vicious electoral system, (for which he went on a hunger strike) intends to return to the state wealth acquired by illegal means, to revise the agreements on the use of natural resources and strategic objects signed by “criminal oligarchs”, to investigate the formation of the external debt of Armenia.

Candidate Vardan Sedrakyan, specialist in epos studies says if he is elected he will revise the foreign policy of Armenia, will take steps to establish Russia-Armenia-Iran military economic alliance. Armenia will not have negotiations with Turkey, until it admits the Armenian Genocide, also Armenia should recognize Abkhazia’s independence. The first decree of Sedrakyan as a president would be proclamation of territories liberated by Armenian people during the Karabakh war as part of Armenia.

Meanwhile candidate Arman Melikyan announced he will not participate in the election campaign, another candidate, National Self-Determination Union Chairman Paruyr Hayrikyan announced this week that the publication of his program is delayed for another week, to make sure his ideas are not stolen by the other candidates.