ARF Will Not Field a Presidential Candidate

ARF Supreme Council of Armenia members Arsen Hambartsumian, Armen Rustamian and Aghvan Vardanian at a press conference Wednesday

YEREVAN—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia announced Wednesday that a special Congress of the party held a day before overwhelmingly decided to not field a candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in Armenia.

“In accordance with the Supreme Assembly’s July decision, the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia took the initiative of putting forward a process to form a wide accord around a unified political agenda. Efforts were made with active political forces and civic circles to create an accord around a political platform so as to develop a unified oppositional front,” said a statement issued by the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia on Wednesday.

“Both, this initiative and the political agenda that was introduced were welcomed and certain prerequisites for making the process effective did exist. The possibility existed to at least restore the people’s broken trust in elections, to generate a qualitatively new situation, to conduct truly competitive elections and to create the ground for the regime change. However, preconceived approaches conditioning the accord with this or that concrete candidate prevented the efforts – to participate in the presidential election with a united agenda– from reaching their logical conclusion,” added the statement.

Taking the current situation into consideration and based on the aforementioned assertions, the ARF Supreme Council Assembly of Armenia, decided “1. Not to nominate a candidate for the upcoming February 18, 2013 presidential election. 2. Ruled out supporting the candidate of the authorities, to authorize the Supreme Council to follow the pre-electoral processes and, if the need arises, to orient the ARF members and supporters accordingly. 3. To continue pursuing with all political means the realization of the party’s seven-point platform,” added the statement.

At a press conference Wednesday, ARF Supreme Council of Armenia representative Armen Rustamian, ARF Parliamentary Faction member Aghvan Vartanian and ARF Supreme Council of Armenia member Arsen Hambartsumian outlined the party’s decision by saying that the current reality in Armenia—the manner in which elections are run and the shadowy political relations inherent in the country—was one of the factors that prompted the party to stay out of the elections.

“The nature of elections which has unfortunately taken hold in Armenia and — like many other areas of our life such as the economy and political relations — is shadowy,” said Vartianian.

“People go to the polls but the decision [on an election outcome] was made long ago through other means and levers. We have not managed to create joint mechanisms for changing that nature,” added Vartanian.

He also cited the failure to form a united opposition front by nominating a single candidate.

“Participation in the predetermined elections would mean being part of a ready-made scenario. We have said on many occasions we do no play the game of others and are never guided by the scenario set forth by others,” said Vartanian.

The ARF leader emphasized that not nominating its own candidate did not mean that the party will withdraw from taking party in the electoral process

“On the contrary, we’ll be trying to ensure that the electoral processes develop in the proper direction,” he said.

The ARF publicized its election platform earlier this fall with a seven-point plan that included shifting Armenia’s governance to a parliamentary system and urging the immediate removal of Armenia’s signature from the Armenia-Turkey protocols.

Party leaders met with major political factions in Armenia, including President Serzh Sarkisian, but were unable to create broad-based support for the plan.

Sarkisian, who made his re-election bid official last month, rejected the two aforementioned main tenets of the plan.

On Tuesday, former president and leader of the Armenian National Congress, Levon Ter-Petrosian also announced that he would not seek the presidency, joining the leader of the Prosperous Armenian Party Gagik Tsarukian, who announced that he, too, would not run for office and pledged that his party would not endorse Sarkisian’s candidacy.

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9 Comments

  1. Edward Demian said:

    What exacly is going on? I haven’t heard of anyone being punished for voting for or against someone. Except for ballott stuffing, if that is possible, is anyone being intimidated for voting or campaigning in Armenia?

  2. A-guy said:

    All elections are rigged….well until the ARF wins, then they will no longer be rigged!

    • MK said:

      Any rigged elections whoever wins wherever it is can only be bad for that country and its people,sadly this is the case with Armenia,as all elections be it Presidential,Parliamentary,or local were rigged except for the first one.

  3. Tsayt said:

    Corruption, cronyism, election rigging, instilling defeatism among the population…these are the most dangerous “enemies” of the Republic of Armenia. They threaten the national security of Armenia much more than our Turkic neighbours on either side of the Armenian border. A revolution is indeed needed to restore the faith of the citizens of Armenia and save it from disaster.

  4. Aram said:

    Well then, the least undesirable (my most desirable) CHOICE should be Raffi Hovhanessian, because he is the most enlightened, modern, least disliked, pragmatic and hopefully the most honest candidate,

  5. Stepan said:

    The news on the election is not good. It seems that it is generating ambivalence among the populace based on the withdrawal of the opposition and the acceptance that the current government is all but assured of re-election.
    I have always found it both ironic and disappointing that the ARF has been only able to generate mid single digit support in the elections. The party that is synonymous with patriotism and all but preserved nationalism in the diaspora from the post genocide years through the recent independence, has not been able to translate it historic populism into governance.
    Armenia needs a strong and active opposition to mature its democratization evolution. I fear that the risk of becoming estranged from the diaspora exists. Most of the western disapora( Europe and North America) are deeply rooted in democratic values from the societies they reside in. Observing and nurturing this evolution in Armenia is at times painful to watch. Most of us , whether in the U.S. , Lebanon, Syria or France, have grown up with the romantic images of Armenia life. The struggle for us is the Armenian we have dreamed of and the Armenia we have. These elections are important because in addition to electing the leader of Armenia, it is a barometer of sorts for the diaspora. It influences individual decisions on investments, volunteerism and identity. Keep our Armenia in your prayers.

  6. Mihran said:

    Neither Russia or USA will allow ARF to come to power as its not in their interest to see a patriotic government in a position of power.

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