Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The date is set; and so it begins

As if it hasn't already been said enough times, this election season is extremely critical: it needs to come off clean and fair, most notably so that people have a semblance of restored faith in the system to give them a reason to vote in the VERY crucial presidential elections next year in '08.

Most observers say that if this country has one, maximum two, more fraudulent elections then that's it. It will be nearly impossible to alter the course Armenia is on (a corrupt system of feudalism, servitude to Russia, and no freedom or defense of citizens' rights) after that.

This article presents just some of the story. But there's so much more...


Decision 2007 Comes May 12: Will it be fair?
ArmeniaNow

By Gayane Abrahamyan

A decree signed this week by President Robert Kocharyan places the Parliamentary elections on May 12.

Now that the date has been settled, the over-riding question remains whether these elections – unlike any in independent Armenia – can be fairly executed.

Garegin Azaryan, chairman of the Central Electoral Commission believes the new electoral code gives an opportunity to hold free, fair and transparent elections.

[...]

Last week the representatives of the oppositional forces met the US Deputy Vice State Secretary, American co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk group Matthew Bryza and shared their opinions on the upcoming election in Armenia.

“Bryza said the adoption of the new code seems to be a step forward; I disagree with the assessment. Elections are falsified independent of the code,” says Manukyan.

Artak Zeynalyan of the Political Council of Hanrapetutyun (Republic) Party has also shared his party’s concerns about the falsifications with Bryza.

“We brought proper arguments supporting the idea that the changes in the electoral code will just facilitate the frauds in the coming election and will make them less discernible,” says Zeynalyan.


[...]
Politicians and ordinary citizens lack hopes for having free elections alike.

The recent survey held jointly by the Armenian Sociological Association and the Gallup Institute among 1,200 residents of Armenia has shown 69 percent of the respondents are confident the elections will be neither free nor fair, while 61 percents believe the authorities in Armenia undertake no sufficient measures to prevent the falsifications in elections.

2 comments:

Onnik Krikorian said...

The Center for Regional Development / Transparency International Armenia has set up an Election Monitor blog at http://blog.transparency.am/.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Incidently, this point raised in the article about the electoral code is particularly relevant. Indeed, when I recently interviewed Harut Hambartsumyan, Chairperson of It's Your Choice, he touched upon this matter as well.

I have always said that transparent and democratic elections can be held in Armenia if there is the political will from the Government and political parties. This is the case even with a bad law. These minor changes mean nothing if the political will to hold democratic elections is not there.

And it's a good point. During the last elections the international community were content with the fact that the electoral code allowed democratic elections. In fact, this seems to be the problem in all walks of life in Armenia.

Lots of good laws, but none of them work. Of course, civil society should demand thwey they work and the Government should listen, but I suppose whether either does or can will determine whether Armenia is veering towards democracy or authoritarian rule.