What will be the agenda of the forthcoming elections? What do you think will be the priorities for the political parties – Artsakh, ecology, or social issues?
Well, Artsakh will always be there. Security of Artsakh is always important, until this issue is settled at all international levels. The problem of demography is also pressing; this is a global issue in Armenia now. Social aspect will also be on the agenda, and many parties will try to play on it. Same is true for the issue of the rule of law.
What will be the difference of the upcoming elections from the previous ones? What new technologies and methods will the parties employ?
They will use methods which work. If the technology of distributing money, i.e. electoral bribe works, they will use it. Those who have the opportunity to use it, will do so, be it the ruling or the opposition parties. Everybody will use this, financial resources provided.
There will also be new, merely technological methods; I can’t name them exactly. I believe all forces, and particularly the authorities will abandon the old clumsy technologies. Ballot-box stealing, figure forgery, ballot paper throw-in will hardly occur. Elections in Hrazdan came to prove this, and the U.S. Ambassador John Heffern confirmed the elections were held normally. Even the opposition says there were no violations. Instead, electoral bribing took place.
As to elections in Hrazdan, even in view of the electoral bribing, the opposition gained an impressive number of votes totaling 47%. Will the Armenian National Congress be able to garner such number at May elections?
It is possible. But you see, almost all forces supported Sasoun Mikaelian (ANC candidate in mayor elections in Hrazdan) – the Armenian National Congress, Dashnaktsutyun, and Free Democrats, while some representatives of the authorities, I mean Prosperous Armenia, took a neutral stance.
How do you assess the “opposition tendency” in Prosperous Armenia’s actions and its conflicts with RPA? Can these opposition games draw the party to quitting the ruling coalition?
I have already stated that the Prosperous Armenia can never be an opposition. It was initially established as a pro-government or a ruling party. Another thing is that they will play opposition within the authorities before the elections. Taking a neutral position as they did in Hrazdan is what they can do at most.
As to quitting the coalition, anything is possible in politics. Yet withdrawal from the coalition does not mean quitting the power.
What parties will be represented in the next National Assembly?
Actually, there will be four of them: the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), the Prosperous Armenia, the Armenian National Congress (ANC). And, of course, Dashnaktsutyun, if they work properly. An alliance is also possible, only an alliance between the Heritage and the “Free democrats”.
How do you assess Orinats Yerkir’s chances to join the next parliament?
I believe the authorities will help them. I do not rule it out; furthermore, I assert that the authorities will make every effort to ensure Orinats Yerkir makes it. However, it will be much more challenging for Orinats Yerkir to gain 5% than, for instance, for RPA to gain 40-45%. I think the society will accept RPA’s 40-45% rather than Orinats Yerkir’s 5%.
Elections in Russia showed that the people nominated its leaders along with traditional parties running in the elections. Do you think such leaders will emerge in Armenia after the elections? Have you seen such leaders?
I do not see them so far; of course, the people may nominate them, especially in this period when generations seem to be changing. 22 years have passed, and the generation that came to power with Karabakh events must leave. Not because of Karabakh events, but because this generation is getting old. A new generation is coming forward, and it can be proposed both by the authorities and the opposition. Young leaders will definitely emerge, and I do not exclude that they will move to politics from some public movements.
As a political expert, how do you assess rumors on comprising “political dinosaurs” like Artashes Geghamyan, Khosrov Harutyuyan and others in the RPA electoral list?
This is very bad. They will be a problem for the Republican Party of Armenia because they are virtual people already. I realize that these people are running for the parliament just to oppose the ANC. This means these people will be used against the ANC on the parliament arena. But the RPA itself should weigh all pros and contras. I believe their inclusion in the list will bring much more contras than pros.