It was clear from the mayoral election in Hrazdan in February when the Republican candidate defeated ANC candidate Sasun Mikaelyan, that the key factor in the parliamentary election 2012 would be electoral bribes.
It is beyond any argument and discussion that voting by bribe is wrong, dangerous. Hence, the tough statements addressed to citizens who accepted bribes are justified. But is it justified to blame people for this phenomenon?
There is no doubt that both the government and the political opposition need such highlights. The government thus justifies its crime, while the opposition justifies its inefficiency.
Meanwhile, if we observe the influence of electoral bribes on political processes, we will have an interesting picture.
Before the parliamentary elections of 2007 and 2017 Serzh Sargsyan as chairman of the council of the Republican Party pledged to do everything he could to hold the best election.
When he made the first of these statements in 2006, Armenia did not have a viable opposition. Justice Alliance and National Unity had lost their strategic charm of 2003. Closer to the election, the opposition Impeachment Alliance was shaped involving Nikol Pashinyan, Aram Zaven Sargsyan of Republic Party and Aram Karapetyan of New Times Party. Raffi Hovanissian and his Heritage Party, as well as the Rule of Law Party which postured as opposition and was characterized as “betrayer” by Orinats Yerkir.
By 2007, none of these forces would manage to earn enough popularity and authority to be able to affect the bipolar game of the government. The point is that since 2006 the government has entered into a game not only in the form of the Republican Party but also the Prosperous Armenia which was offered as an alternative to the systemic Republican Party.
To make this alternative appear more influential and convincing for the public, PA adopted a money policy, launching large-scale charity, pledging money for forming party cells. In this case, the natural ground and political intrigue of the game is not essential. The essential driving power is cash money which was unprecedented in Armenia.
The parliamentary election 2007 was the best indeed because there was little fuss, almost no fighting and shooting, ballot staffing was replaced by election bribe, and the Republican Party, as Serzh Sargsyan promised, did not have problems in winning absolute majority. Then it formed a coalition with Prosperous Armenia. There was no post-election protest, a three month wave of dominant despair and indifference.
On 21 September 2007 Levon Ter-Petrosyan returned to politics. It was preceded by information preparations which aggravated the intrigue. On 26 October 2007 Ter-Petrosyan held a populous rally and announced about his decision to run in the presidential election. The political picture changed in Armenia, while Serzh Sargsyan did not have time to commit to the next presidential elections though he had such expectations after the quiet parliamentary election of 2007.
Everyone remembers the presidential election 2008. After the despair and indifference of 2007, Ter-Petrosyan was able to create competition and oppose the government plans which deprived the government of the opportunity to hold the next quiet election based on money.
Electoral bribe was not crucial in 2008. Electoral bribe again had a big role one year later in the local election in May and the parliamentary election in 2012.
Perhaps it indicated that people simply react adequately to the political situation in Armenia. If this reaction is considered as non-adequate in the case of electoral bribe, it means that earlier the political opposition was not adequate, therefore enabling a big role of the electoral bribe.
In Armenia, and perhaps in any country, the growth of efficiency of the political opposition is ruled out if the main target of responsibility is people. In any case, the political opposition is responsible, the political opposition must claim responsible because in the beginning peoples have similar political and civil behaviors, the environments and influence agents influencing their behavior may vary.
The characteristics of people do not appear on their own, they are shaped by elite groups. Elite shape people because the notion of people is a diverse and multi-color thing and it can break down into different groups with different psychology, mentality, outlook. The issue is which of them is more viable and efficient in forming a democratic environment, which of them addresses this issue to take power or is able to take power to address this issue.