Nobody expected important pronouncements during the rally of the Armenian National Congress on June 26. But one at least expected the Congress to clarify whether it will nominate a presidential candidate or will support another candidate. Although in Armenia all the decisions are made on the last day. For instance, we witnessed during the parliamentary elections the proportional lists were not published until 2-3 days before the deadline.
The question of Serzh Sargsyan’s future opponent is becoming the key issue of the political discussion. The fact that the ANC did not state anything about its candidate is evidence that all the options are being scrutinized. And the circumstance that Levon Ter-Petrosyan devoted his speech to Prosperous Armenia may mean that the Congress will support the PAP.
In particular, already some suggestions are in place that a possible candidate is Vartan Oskanian – an acceptable candidate for both the Congress (except for Nikol Pashinyan) and the PAP, as well as perhaps the international community. In any case, he is more acceptable than Robert Kocharyan.
Experts also say that Kocharyan may also approve his candidacy as an “interim” one though obviously he will nominate himself on the very first occasion. Robert Kocharyan is already 58, in 5 years he will be 63, and this is not the best age for presidency. And he knows that if he misses this chance, he may not have another chance. Besides, Kocharyan’s ambitions have already become a political factor.
Aram Manukyan of the ANC forecasts serious perturbations in September because the nominees will become known. Apparently, however, this time it will not be a choice of personalities. The voters may choose a political ideology, between West and North, real democracy and pseudo-democracy, development and transformation to a banana republic.
The alternative candidate will need to make voters believe not only in the wrongness of Serzh Sargsyan’s policy but also the advantages of the path offered by him. Now nobody will try to evaluate which is the lesser of two evils, Serzh Sargsyan or Kocharyan, Oskanian. They will compare what Serzh Sargsyan and his opponents will pledge them.
In a global sense, Serzh Sargsyan offers European integration, democratic reforms, involvement of Armenia in regional projects, possibly through certain concessions. But is this path real and is Serzh Sargsyan ready to go all the way? And what will his opponent offer?
It is not ruled out that the outcome of elections, as before, will again determined by the misuse of the administrative resource and falsifications and there will be no ideological competition. But in this case the opposition parties need not nominate a joint candidate but to boycott the elections, demand formation of a new Central Electoral Commission, amendments to the Electoral Code and fair elections.