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Armenia: Political Campaigns, Failing to Inspire Voters, Offer Cash

Staffers of Armenia’s Central Election Commission test new voter-identification equipment in early March ahead of the 2017 parliamentary elections. As voters head to the polls this weekend, they may be thinking less about politics and more about their pocketbooks, as vote-buying in this South Caucasus nation seems to be getting ever more blatant. (Photo: Armenia’s Central Election Commission)

As voters head to the polls in Armenia’s parliamentary elections, they may be thinking less about politics and more about their pocketbooks.
 
Vote-buying has long been a staple of politics in Armenia, where parties and politicians offer few inspiring choices and voters see little reason to support one over the other.
 
“They come from all the party headquarters and quote a sum, and we wait to see who offers the highest sum so we can choose him,” said Rima Kirakosyan, a resident of Gyumri, Armenia’s second-largest city where the official poverty level stands at about 45 percent. Kirakosyan, who has lived in temporary housing ever since a 1988 earthquake devastated the city, joked in an interview with EurasiaNet.org that her neighbors are planning to organize “an auction to raise the rates of the election bribes.”
 
In this election, in which the ruling Republican Party of Armenia is expected to win its fifth consecutive parliamentary victory, vote-buying seems to be getting even more blatant. One senior party official acknowledged that voters were being paid, but insisted that it was merely a “donation.”
 

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Gayane Abrahamyan is a freelance reporter and editor in Yerevan.

Armenia: Political Campaigns, Failing to Inspire Voters, Offer Cash

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