Parliamentary Elections in Armenia.

February 16 is the deadline for Political Parties (Parties) to present their list of candidates for the next parliamentary elections which is only seven days away. So far non of the Parties has done so.

With the new electoral code, basically, voters elect Parties and not candidates. Party leadership and “back room boys”select and appoint the candidates who become more accountable to the Party leadership than the voters.

There are proportional electoral systems where the candidates although get elected with Party lists, but still remain as representatives of the electorate and accountable to them. But in Armenia’ case, it does not seem this is the case.

One United Nations ( UNDP) “electoral systems expert” called the new Armenian electoral code as “complicated”, and the “thickest piece of electoral law” that he has ever seen and “it has the most complicated calculating system”.

This expert probably does not know that, we, the Armenians, are a “complicated” people, or at least  love to “complicate” our issues to make them look hard to solve and that gives our leadership to lament about them, and blame the “others”.

Maybe this expert also does not know that,  Armenia, is a country with a reputation of having many mathematicians (who probably helped draft the “most complicated calculating system”!) who most probably have the formula to easily solve this calculating problem! (I couldn’t help being a bit sarcastic).

Politicians who support the new electoral laws, are claiming that, this coming election will be the most transparent and fair election during the past twenty five years. They might be right. With cameras in almost every poling station, and making the list of the voters who actually did vote available for verification by the opposition Parties during, and after the vote counting is done, probably makes it harder to falsify.

As for influencing the voters through behind the scene pressure or bribes, it is hard to proof verify them and most probably, cannot be so massive that, will make the outcome of the election questionable.

The big question is, will the participating Parties and Alliances (Tashink) attract young candidates to set a new course for the next twenty five years, or, it will be the same old soviet trained remnants of the past, who will continue the same old soviet methods. We might partly know when the lists are published.

I talked about the major Parties in my previous Monologue but hardly on the Alliances. So far only two alliances are being talked about. The first is “Yelk” Headed by the leader of Bright Armenia Party Edmond Marukyan who currently serves in the Parliament and his Party made substantive gains in the last municipal elections in the city of Vanatsor.

He is reported to be a U.S trained lawyer and seems to be one of the least pretentious and less “tough” looking leader within the political leadership in Armenia. So far he is joined by three other Parties that have few members in the current Parliament.

The other probable Alliance is rumored to be headed by former Defense minister Seyran Ohanyan who has never been a Party member but was part of the recent oligarchic administrations till he was “dumped” by president Serj Sargsyan in the last cabinet. He caries heavy load of “old baggage” that many voters considered it to be a disadvantage.

He is joined by Vartan Oskanian who for ten years was foreign Minister of Armenia during the President Kocharian’ reign. For many, this is considered to be rather a disadvantage than an advantage. He also established the Civilitas, and Civilnet news outlets in Yervan.

He is a diaspora born Armenian who got his free early university education in Soviet Armenia and continued it in United States. He became one of the first very few from Diaspora to returned to “pay” his “dept” when Armenia became independent and he did it  rather well.

There is a third oligarch in the person of Hovig Abrahamian the previous Prime Minster and previous President of the Parliament, who resigned or was pushed from Republican Party and is rumored to join one of the Alliances or Gagig Dsarukyan’ Party, with whom he has some family relationship as an in-law.

So far the big absentee is Raffi Hovannisian a third generation United State born Armenian who became the first Foreign Minster of the New Republic, and organised the Foreign Ministry from the “scratch” during his short term in office.

Raffi has also established the ACNIS research center in Yerevan as a  policy development center and formed the Heritage Party that just few days ago declared that, they have decided to participate in the election by joining one of the Alliances and they have not yet decided which one.

Raffi also run for President of Armenia in 2013 against Serj Sargsyan and won over the 37% of the official vote count. No other politician has been able to do that. Needless to say, hat election was rigged and the victory was stolen from Raffi.

Next Parliament should elect Raffi Hovannisian as the first President of Armenia under the New Constitution. (Passed by a falsified referendum on December 6 2015). The new presidential election is due in 2018, when Serj Sargsyan’ term expires. They owe it to Raffi. He has also earned it.

Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian.



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