The February 18 presidential election in Armenia has proved to be unexpected not only for the “modest” level of Sargsyan’s score (about 59 percent) considering predictions of his landslide by a wide margin, but also by the number of votes polled by his main opposition challenger, Raffi Hovannisian (about 37 percent).
According to the preliminary results announced by the Central Election Commission this morning incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan has been reelected with more than 58 percent of the votes. However, supporters of the officially second-placed candidate Raffi Hovannisian (who got about 37 percent of the vote) insisted all night that he had won in all major cities and towns and that at least the runoff should be appointed.
The announcement by the leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) Levon Ter-Petrosyan of plans to set up a new social-liberal party on the platform of the current opposition bloc has elicited mixed reactions, with some representatives of the government calling it the sign of the former president’s political fiasco.
The race towards the presidential election in Armenia, which is scheduled to be held on February 18, is taking place against the backdrop of what appears to be a determination of the future of Armenian-Russian relations. The topic became open after the assassination attempt against one of the presidential candidates, national self-determination advocate Paruyr Hayrikyan, who openly accused “Russian imperialism” of organizing the attack.
Presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan, who was wounded in an apparent assassination attempt late last week, is soon expected to announce his decision on whether he wants the campaign to be suspended and elections postponed by two weeks – an opportunity given by the Constitution – or he rather sees no ‘insurmountable obstacles’ to his electioneering.
Armenia’s recent military acquisitions and announced modernization of some of its defense capabilities may fit the general context of a big war prospect in the Greater Middle East that is deemed as real as ever after this week’s direct involvement of Israel in the escalating conflict in Syria.
On January 28, which was officially marked as Army Day in Armenia, the South Caucasus country was unexpectedly visited by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha, who had an impressive delegation with him.
The wave of protests that struck Azerbaijan last week may become a detonator of a military adventure in the South Caucasus.
The incident in the Ismayilli region of Azerbaijan reminded of the Arab Spring scenarios, thinks head of the Analytical Center on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, political analyst Stepan Grigoryan. In the current situation, in his opinion, it is possible that official Baku will try to direct popular discontent against Karabakh and replace public discontent with nationalism.
For this first time in many years Georgia and Russia are going to hold a business forum, a sign of a coming thaw in the relations of the two bitter Caucasus rivals. The agreement on such an event – to be hosted in Tbilisi in March – was reached this week in the Swiss winter resort town of Davos at the meeting of the head of the National Investment Agency of Georgia Georgiy Pertaya and head of the Business Association of Russia.
The second day of campaigning in Armenia brought relative surprises as it became clear that by Election Day February 18 the number of presidential candidates may shrink significantly.
Under Armenian election laws, any of the eight candidates now seeking election to the presidential post are eligible to withdraw from the race up to 10 days before the polls (February 8), and have their election deposit of 8 million drams (about $20,000) refunded. Some candidates have already said they would use this opportunity.