Pre-election fuss in Armenia

Pre-election fuss in Armenia

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 9 / Trend /

Trend commentator Arzu Naghiyev

The presidential elections in Armenia and their results can be considered as a strategic issue for surrounding regional countries and Azerbaijan because Armenia still continues to occupy Azerbaijani lands and Yerevan still holds a non-constructive position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.

The Armenian Central Election Committee has received some 15 candidate applications for participation in the presidential elections scheduled for February 18. Armenian incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan, having the slogan 'Armenia's well-being' and chairman of the 'Freedom' party, former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan have been nominated by their parties. The remaining candidates are self-nominated.

Sargsyan seems the most real candidate in this list. These elections are political PR for others to draw attention to themselves.

If one analyses the pre-electoral processes and placing authorities, first of all one must stress that the presidential elections will determine a direction of the country's political system's development.

The significant point of the current pre-election situation is that for the first time the current government is not sure of its unequivocal victory. Armenia's ruling Republican Party together with 'Prosperous Armenia' managed to stop the wave of protests in 2008.

Today 'Prosperous Armenia' urges the government to conduct such reforms as the passing to a parliamentary form of government. At the same time, the difficult socio-economic situation and increasing migration and arbitrariness of officials further increase the population's feeling of disgust for state bodies.

According to Armenia's official statistics, the government's recent decision to increasing the minimum wage by 2500 drams (around $6) has caused a sense of irony among everybody except for the ruling party itself. The minimum consumer basket reaches 53,000 drams (around $130), and the minimum wage is 35,000 drams (around $86). Of course, this increase amid high inflation can only cause ridicule.

On the other hand, realising the country's government's strong dependence on foreign 'players' and local oligarchs, the Armenians do not hope for any positive changes. In these circumstances, the forces having both internal and external interests cannot but show interest in a person who will be the next president.

The strongest political rival for the authorities is 68 year old ex-President Levon Ter-Petrossian, who, having health problems, does not participate in the elections. It is known that he has no support as in 2008. Moreover, representatives of the Armenian National Congress in parliament (seven out of 131 MPs) testify to exhausting potential.

While trying to get support in the elections, incumbent president Sargsyan is trying to show himself as a pro-Western person and comply with the West's requirements.
It is known that the authorities in Armenia during the elections will manipulate using such issues as the so-called 'Armenian genocide', the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenian-Turkish relations and the Eurasian Union.

While making the steps towards European integration, Sargsyan even wants to legalise same sex marriages soon to 'please' the West. EU experts invited to the country in this regard have prepared a bill to amend the country's legislation. It is planned to make amendments after electing the President, otherwise he may lose power more quickly.

A same sex couple from France Arno and Misha arrived in Armenia in 2006 and were married at the church of Holy Etchmiadzin. In this regard, no mass protests or scandal were conducted.

Of course, Serzh Sargsyan will ask for Russia's help. In return, anti-Russian sentiment artificially created by Sargsyan will be eliminated in the country. Taking into account that Russia is pursuing its geopolitical interests in the South Caucasus, it is sure to support the candidate who suits it.

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