Aram Abrahamyan on Hrazdan Elections and Bribing Voters Past and Present
Chief editor of local daily Aram Abrahamyan (pictured) in his column today turned his attention to the mayoral elections held in the central Armenian town of Hrazdan on Feb. 12:
“The mayoral elections in Hrazdan revealed the model that the ruling authorities have selected to ensure their victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections. There won’t be ballot stuffing or outbursts at the polling stations — the ruling parties will avoid all types of unpleasant incidents as much as possible. Shutting off the electricity in polling stations was simply ‘retro’: a tribute to the tradition of the 90s; an insignificant move, the effectiveness of which is equal to zero — something similar, I believe, won’t happen again. Instead of all this, according to the plan, playing a decisive role will be bribing voters, which, it’s true, has been in practice since 1995, but this time it will be on a grand scale. I think there is fertile soil for the practical application of this, because the prevailing sentiment in our society is ‘it’s all the same, this country won’t sort itself out.’ And if this is so, then what difference whether it’s them or them, at least we’ll earn a penny or two.
“To say that there is absolutely no basis for such a sentiment would be an exaggeration. Of course [opposition candidate] Sasun Mikaelyan is more charismatic and has demonstrated far greater service to the homeland than drab, not-particularly-conspicuous official [Republican Party of Armenia candidate] Aram Danielyan. But if Mr. Mikaelyan even swears that he didn’t use administrative levers and didn’t hand out any bribes to become a member of parliament [1999–2008], I, for example, won’t believe him. Former government officials, for some reason, are sure or assure you that they achieved power as a result of the people’s fervent love for them, and the people have just as much of a fervent hatred now for the current authorities and vote for them only when bribed. It seems to me, this is a delusion — there is equal and profound indifference toward everyone. If love for the opposition candidate was so irresistible, they wouldn’t vote for his opponent for [a mere] 5,000 drams. Is it worth being surprised that your opponent does that which you did at one time?
“One more point: when a minister calls a citizen before him on the street a ‘bum,’ when an unlettered and impudent lawmaker calls his colleague an animal, we protest it. The same reaction is called for when Sasun Mikaelyan’s supporters on Facebook call those (in their opinion, thousands of) people who accepted bribes ‘brutes’ and ‘hookers’ — especially, let me repeat, since the team that put this into practice is today’s uncompromising opposition and complains of bribing voters.”
Updated 9:27 am on Feb. 15, 2012: “northern” changed to “central” to better reflect Hrazdan’s actual location.
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