“Civil Society Activities in 2017 Ahead of Parliamentary Elections”
13.02.2017
12:00
On February 13, a press conference was held at Media Center, during which the representatives of the civil society presented their upcoming activities related to the Parliamentary Elections Day and the pre-election phase in 2017.

Zaruhi Hovhannisyan, Human Rights Defender, said that the civil society had always played a role in the electoral processes in the form of monitoring and observation missions.
“This time a decision was made by more than 30 NGOs to prepare the content part. We think that there is a lack of the content part and it needs filling in. We decided that the civil society should have its questions, which must be answered by the political actors of the electoral process. Questions are developed that should be sent to the parties and they should answer these questions, which will be finalized, developed and will be presented to the society through public discussions, public debates,” Hovhannisyan said.
She added that the primary objective is that the substantial part is missing:
“We see possible conflicts but the substantial issues that exist in the public discourse has not been settled for years. The corruption issues, serious drawbacks in human rights, socio-economic, foreign, political issues remain open throughout the campaign,” she said.

Arthur Sakunts, Head of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, said that these are the most non-competitive elections in Armenia's history.
“There is no competition, we see palace agreements, alliances that are destroyed without even being founded. There are some actions, moves, but there is no idea movement, no discourse, no debate. It was very strange, when Armenia faces serious challenges and serious problems, the issue of Karabakh, security threats and economic challenges, the challenges of foreign and domestic policy, and there is no discourse. The discussion is not about who will submit the best proposal but they discuss who can join whom,” Sakunts said.

Avetik Ishkhanyan, Head of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia, said that since 1998, they have conducted a pre-election and election-day monitoring during all the elections.
“This time we have two components: one is the monitoring of peaceful assemblies during the pre-election period, the other will be the monitoring of the elections. Until now, the picture was different in our districts where an observation mission was conducted, compared to the places where there were no observers,” Ishkhanyan said.
Referring to the initiative of extracting content answers to questionnaires, Ishkhanyan appreciated it as very important.
“In fact, there are no left, right, nationalist, conservative political parties in Armenia,” Ishkhanyan added.

Varujan Hoktanyan, Head of Transparent International Anti-Corruption Center, said that it was important that the voter's behavior is also understood and changed.
“We see that at present there is no ideological struggle, no discourse, and it is a quite sad phenomenon. The only potential issue in this discourse is the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the other issues- socio-economic, domestic and foreign, corruption, are left out of the discourse. This will naturally lead to the fact that voter’s behavior becomes elementary from the election to election,” Hoktanyan said.
He added that the Citizen Observer Initiative will conduct observation missions in 1500-1800 polling stations this year involving about 3700 observers, 500 of whom will be from Diaspora and 150 from Georgia.

Daniel Ioannisyan, Programs Coordinator at "Informed Citizens Association" NGO, said that they intended to work in several key areas related to the elections.
“We will conduct observation missions with partner organizations in the framework of the independent observer in all RA regions. We will cover about 200 polling stations and will also have mobile groups. We are going to carry out a campaign with video and audio materials, which will deliver several messages to voters. We will also try to explain the importance of these elections. There are even people who think that presidential elections will be held next year. We have to explain to people that this is the most important elections in the near future,” Ioannisyan added.

Lilit Arakelyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
To contact the author please send an email to lilitarakelyan@pjc.am.

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