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Election in Armenia: Is competition possible?12.12.2012 | 17:57
The closer the presidential election in Armenia, the greater aggravated the political field in the country. While it is clear that the current President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan is going to run for the highest public office. The main question now is: Will the leader of "Prosperous Armenia" party Gagik Tsarukyan run for the presidency?
The main intrigue in the political field of Armenia is associated with the position of the leader of "Prosperous Armenia" Party (PAP) Gagik Tsarukyan who can become a major competitor of Serzh Sargsyan if runs for the presidency. Leader of the opposition party the "Heritage" Raffi Hovhannisyan also has a desire to join the presidential marathon. Levon Ter-Petrosyan, leader of the main opposition force - the Armenian National Congress - now is marking time, and the question of his participation is in the air.
Deputy Director of the Caucasus Institute, an Armenian political scientist Sergey Minasyan told the Big Caucasus that the issue of whether Gagik Tsarukyan was going to run for presidential election is the main thing for today. This will determine the whole future course of the election campaign, said Minasyan. "All the political field, in particular all minority candidates, are awaiting for his decision, which, in turn, depends on the outcome of negotiations between Gagik Tsarukyan and current President Serzh Sargsyan", says the analyst.
A few days ago it was reported that Tsarukyan and Serzh Sargsyan had met at the presidential residence and discussed the upcoming election. This information was neither denied nor confirmed by any of the parties. This has caused the talk about the possible refuse of Gagik Tsarukyan from participating in the election, which is being actively discussed in the online media.
"Serzh Sargsyan and Gagik Tsarukyan are holding talks. There already might be some results, and the information about this can be made public literally in the next two or three days. I'm beginning to doubt that Tsarukyan will run for presidency. Anyway, this probability is not as obvious for me as it was a few days ago", said Sergey Minasyan. He added that the reason for this is too long silence of the leader of "Prosperous Armenia" and some signals coming from both the ruling circles and the PAP, that there can be concluded a kind of an agreement between Tsarukyan and Sargsyan.
Meanwhile, part of the expert community of Armenia inclines to think that the probability of Tsarukyan's nomination is quite great, and this will strongly change the political field. "If Tsarukyan decides to run, it would be the first campaign for the highest office which will be based on the agreement reached between the political forces highly involved in the process. Such a situation when the talks on the participation of candidates are being considered in the context of consultations between the opposition and non-opposition parties has never happened in Armenia. Secondly, this makes the presidential race really competitive", said Sergey Minasyan. In his view, if Tsarukyan does not participate in the presidential campaign, the election has purely technical nature.
According to the political analyst, with the real competition the possibility of fraud in the election will be much more complicated. One thing is to fight the ideologically weakened opposition, and another - with a political force with a strong organizational structure in all regions and headed by the specific businessmen.
The robust position of Gagik Tsarukyan and his party is indicated through a survey conducted in late October by the Gallup International. According to survey, if the election is held next Sunday, current President Serzh Sargsyan would have gained 28% of the vote, and the leader of the PAP Tsarukyan - 19%. It is interesting that 11% are ready to vote for the former President Robert Kocharian. 4% would have voted for Levon Ter-Petrosyan, and 3% - for a close associate of Gagik Tsarukyan, ex-Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. The head of "Heritage" party Raffi Hovhannisyan would have gained 3% of the vote. About 30% of voters are still undecided.
Although Tsarukyan, according to the poll, is behind the incumbent president, he probably can count on the support of the respondents who have supported Robert Kocharian and Oskanian who are his close associates. This, experts say, can change the whole pre-election situation.
In the context of the struggle between the ruling party and the former part of the government (PAP) the opposition, mainly Ter-Petrosyan-headed the bloc Armenian National Congress, which is losing its allies and gradually receding into the background, has found itself in an interesting situation.
Political analyst Sergey Minasyan evaluates the process this way: "The opposition is ceasing to be solely ideological in nature in the context of the split between the political and economic elite, like in many other countries. Trend of weakening of the opposition and waiting attitude of minority political parties indicates that the political field of Armenia is in the process of consolidation. Ideologically minded political forces are experiencing marginalization, there is a struggle for power between the specific forces. There appears real competition if Tsarukyan participates in the election".