PanARMENIAN.Net - Eight political parties and one election bloc, namely the Armenian National Congress, bid for the election campaign. 180 candidates are nominated in 41 constituencies standing by the majority system.
April 1 is set as a deadline for candidate registration, with the election campaign officially kicking off on April 8.
If we resort to sport terminology, the campaign features three conditional groups: favourites, middlings, and outsiders. Each group comprises three political forces, and the first two – favourites and middlings –involve three pro-government and three opposition forces.
The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), its coalition partner Prosperous Armenia and the radical opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) are the favourite runners.
The proportional list of RPA is the largest one comprising 253 people, headed by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, former speaker of the National Assembly Hovik Abrahayman and Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan. The 2012 RPA list is characterized by involvement of a great number of other forces’ representatives, new RPA members, as well as lack of big tycoons.
Many experts believe that RPA is the key favourite of the upcoming elections, and in view of its large financial and administrative resources, it claims to gain victory both by proportional system and in most of majority constituencies, where, in particular, big tycoons missing in the proportional list will stand for its interests.
The second strongest governmental party, Prosperous Armenia, comes second with a 165-member list headed by party’s leader, powerful businessman Gagik Tsarukyan, ex foreign minister of Armenia Vardan Oskanyan and minister for urban development Vardan Vardanyan.
Prosperous Armenia which recently started to play opposition within the ruling coalition, mainly aims at consolidating its positions, first of all at the expense of RPA members, in an attempt to shed the image of “RPA’s younger brother”.
ANC comes as the third favorite; being an election bloc, it has to overcome the 7% threshold instead of the 5% one set for parties. ANC list comprises 119 people and is headed by former Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrossian, leader of People’s Party of Armenia Stepan Demirchyan and head of Republic party Aram Sargsyan. Opposition oligarchs Khachatur and Saribek Sukiasyans are placed rather high in the list, ranking respectively 10th and 12th. One of them is going to run by majority system as well, nominated in 10th constituency.
Though opposition’s supporters recently get increasingly disappointed in ANC, the Congress is still considered to be the chief opposition force intending to secure majority of seats in the next parliament and then initiate the procedure of President Sargsyan's impeachment.
Another opposition representative, one of Armenia’s traditional parties ARF Dashnaktsutyun takes the lead in the mediocre group. The party’s list comprises 85 people, topped by head of ARFD parliamentary group Vahan Hovhannisyan, head of parliamentary commission for foreign affairs Armen Rustamyan, and parliamentary group secretary Artyusha Shahbazyan. It should be noted that Dashnaktsutyun has updated its list significantly, leaving out almost half of current ARFD parliamentary group members.
The party has its old army of supporters and will most likely make it into the parliament, failing, however, to dominate there.
Another opposition party, the Heritage, and “junior” coalition partner Orinats Yerkir have fewer chances to enter the next parliament.
Prior to election campaign, Heritage joined efforts with another opposition party, Free Democrats (splitters from ANC core, Armenian National Movement - ANM). Heritage and Free Democrats first intended to run for the parliament as an election bloc, but perhaps realizing the challenge of overcoming the 7% threshold, opted for including the “democrats” into Heritage's list. Heritage leader Raffi Hovannisian, head of Free Democrats Khachatur Kokobelyan and Heritage MP Zaruhi Postanjyan top the 73-member list.
It is worth mentioning that Heritage’s list sparked much interest by abundance of public sector representatives, who ousted party’s prominent Mpsto lower places; this caused discontent and even withdrawal of some members from the party.
Though many experts say Orinats Yerkir party is less likely to enter the parliament than any other of the mentioned six, it has the second largest list comprising 178 people. Secretary of the National Security Council Artur Baghdasaryan, head of parliamentary group Heghine Bisharyan and Minister of Emergency Situations Armen Yeritsyan top the party’s proportional list.
The challenge Orinats Yerkir might face at the forthcoming elections is caused by the party’s and particularly its leader Baghdasaryan’s moves following the presidential election in 2008. Running as an opposition candidate, Baghdasaryan then joined the authorities, thus arousing rumors about his deal with the government.
The “outsiders” of the upcoming race are Democratic Party of Armenia (DPA), Communist Party of Armenia and United Armenian party. These parties are perhaps guided by the Olympic motto “Participation is more important than winning”; this is the only explanation for their participation in the elections.
DPA’s 45-member list is headed party’s leader Aram Sargsyan, academicians Lenser Aghalovyan and Armen Hovsepyan.
The Communist Party comes up with 75 candidate list topped by first secretary of Communist Party Central Committee Ruben Tovmasyan, leader of Progressive Communist Party Vazgen Safaryan and secretary of Yerevan city committee Tatschat Sargsyan.
United Armenians list involves 29 members, headed by party's leader Ruben Avagyan, deputy chair of State Engineering University Gurgen Hovsepyan and enginner, lawyer Gayane Andreasyan.
As to the chances of these parties, gaining even 1% will become a great success for them.