Richard Giragosian: Authorities not to be blamed for lack of competition in the forthcoming elections

 Lusine Vasilyan

The forthcoming elections will be the least competitive in Armenian political history and will reflect the political reality in Armenia, Director of the Regional Research Center Richard Giragosian told a press conference today.

However, according to him, unlike Uzbekistan and Belarus, we cannot blame the authorities for the situation. It’s not the President’s fault that he has no viable, strong opponents, Giragosian said.

As for the election campaign, the analyst said “we see a competition of personalities, not policies, which reflects the low level of political discourse and the political debate.”

However, the political scientist believes many of the candidates running against President Sargsyan will raise important issues during the campaign. “Former Prime Minister Hrant Baratyan and former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovhannisyan will each inject new ideas into the political campaign and will assist in elevating the political debate or discourse, and that’s their mission,” he said

According to Giragosian, the real challenge to the Armenian government in the election is the problem of low voter turnout. “Lack of stronger competition means less public interest,” he added. “The second challenge is guaranteeing a much more free and fair and improved election this time.”

Richard Giragosian said the election is not only a challenge, but also an opportunity for the authorities. “The election is an opportunity to strengthen democracy and to improve the conduct of the election. It’s also an opportunity for the Armenian government to meet and surpass the expectations. Most interestingly, it’s also an opportunity for President Sargsyan to use his re-election as a way to build a mandate and to use the second term as a way to build a legacy,” he said.

Turning to foreign policy issues, the analyst said the coming year will be challenging for Armenia. “Fortunately, whether it is Nagorno Karabakh or the Armenian-Turkish relations, the Armenian foreign policy is now in a stronger position than before.”

“At the same time Armenia is much more stable than its neighbors,” he said.

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