Armenia heads to polls amid claims of foul play
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. AFP photoArmenians are poised to cast their votes on May 6 in a parliamentary election that looks set to become a battle for supremacy between the governing party and its current coalition partner, led by an ultra-rich former arm wrestling champion.
Opinion polls suggest that President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party, which currently controls the majority of seats in Parliament, is ahead of its ally in the outgoing coalition – the Prosperous Armenia Party, led by millionaire tycoon and former arm wrestler Gagik Tsarukian. Authorities have pledged an unprecedentedly clean contest for the 131-seat National Assembly in the mountainous country of 3.3 million people. The general perception among the public, however, tells a different story. “If elections were fair and democratic, and the people were to choose freely, then Sarkisian’s party surely would not be their [preference.] They [the Republican Party] will do their utmost to ensure a majority in Parliament,” told Edgar Vartanian, a political scientist from the Armenian Center for National and International Studies.
Sarkisian’s government’s efforts to kick-start diplomatic relations with Turkey in 2008, which subsequently failed to reach fruition, have not made it to the election agenda either, as the issue could negatively impact the campaign, Vartanian added. Alexander Iskandarian, the director of the Caucasus Institute, countered these claims however, saying Sarkisian’s government would fail to attain a parliamentary majority, and a coalition government will emerge.