On the one hand, the presidential election in Nagorno-Karabakh ended as it had been expected, on the other hand, interesting changes were noticed.
The first and symptomatic change was the smaller difference between the results of the winner and the run-up candidate. In NKR presidential election 2012 the winner’s percentage is lower than in the previous elections. For instance, in 2007 Bako Sahakyan got 85.12% while his opponent Masis Mayilyan got 12.53%.
In 2002, ex-president Arkady Ghukasyan was reelected by 88.95% while his opponent got only 7.67%. Moreover, in his first election Ghukasyan got as much as 89.31%, whereas the runner-up got 5.35%.
In the first presidential election in NKR, in 1996 Robert Kocharyan got 88.91%, his opponent got 7.09%.
It should be noted that the first three presidential elections in NKR were not competitive, and the opponents were objectively weaker than the winners.
The picture was different in 2007 when Bako Sahakyan’s opponent was Masis Mayilyan, and the picture was different in 2012 when the opponent to the incumbent president was General Vitaly Balasanyan.
The dynamics of the past two elections is notable. In 2007 Masis Mayilyan was able to double the result of the runner-up of the previous election, in 2012 Vitaly Balasanyan got 31% which doubled Mayilyan’s result, while the winner’s result is down to 67%.
Hence, although the president was not changed in Karabakh, the situation changes, which is visible even in the official reelection data.
Bako Sahakyan’s opponent Vitaly Balasanyan had noted that if he loses the voting, he will declare himself opposition.
There has been no opposition in Karabakh for a long time. As a result, the social and political life is colored in grey, diverse opinions are referred to as treason or spying, as well as the lower rating of Karabakh by Freedom House which described Karabakh as non-free, bringing it to the same level with Azerbaijan. Earlier Karabakh was partly free.
Certainly, the goal is not to change the president or the evaluation of Karabakh but wake the social and political life, dispersing the grey mist, enabling competition of ideas and opinions which make societies compliant, competitive, viable, sober, alert to meet the challenges of time. International evaluations are merely the good or bad result of these steps.
What will change in Karabakh after the fifth presidential election? The answer to this question depends on how Vitaly Balasanyan and his team will further act. Or what opposition Balasanyan will form, what changes of social psychology and mentality he will bring, what new ideas will be proposed and formed. There is no doubt that the behavior of the government will depend on the activities of the opposition, the level of access to it.
After all, the public understanding of this activity has made the government resist temptations at 80% and up. Now the opposition needs to resist status temptations and continue the actions that make the government resist temptations.