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.”
To read the full story
Gayane Abrahamyan is a freelance reporter and editor in Yerevan.