One of the beauties of the Armenian Blogosphere is that first-hand accounts of current events are being covered more extensively, more quickly and (sometimes) more accurately than conventional news sources.
The recent election in Armenia is a great case in point. While conventional media like Armenian National Public Radio tell us that the turnout at the polls were an unenthusiastic 57% (source) and Euriasnet is reporting that it is the best election in Armenian history (source). You can refer to blogs like, Notes from Hairenik for the election results, Armenian Blog Review for an election summary here, mentioning:
Unlike other major events taking place in Armenia, bloggers were surprisingly passive on the election day: Kornelij Glas, Echannel Blogs and Tirami su…were the first to break the silence.
and Cilicia.com‘s Nareg writes about being an election observer in Armenia:
…there was absolutely nothing fraudulent going on at my polling station…We finally ended at eight exactly, having received 1016 votes for the day…we had to count, count each and every single piece of ballot paper, in the presence of twenty people, one by one, bit by bit…First we had to count the party votes – the proportional list – and then the chaps running individually…it got irritating. I mean the people were very nice, but the relentless tide of counting, add to that the smoke from the inevitable cigarettes, the crankiness from lack of sleep…Suffice to say, well before six in the morning, which is when I finally got home, I was thinking, “There HAS TO BE a better way of doing this”. What, nobody’s heard of computers around here?…(source)
Nareg reflects the day after and adds:
There was a rally at the Opera Square just now, with representatives of a few political parties and a relatively big crowd of upset citizens. It wasn’t terribly huge, but what the politicians had to say got me thinking, got me confused…I was more or less pleased with my experience yesterday, and I feel reassured, as I said, that we can really and truly hold free and fair elections in this country…(source)
Life Around Me also has some first-hand observations (link).
For those interested in the vote-counting process, there is a YouTube video illustrating how the Armenians counted votes this weekend (video) and even how the inmates at one prison did it(video).
As a veteran observer of Armenia’s elections, Cilicia.com‘s Raffi K.adds his own useful post-election run-down:
…I know a bunch of the observers, and, well, it seems things have improved… though they are still far from what I would consider acceptable. It seems the primary method of cheating this year was through buying votes. This was done on a massive scale by the governing Republican party and by Dodi Gago’s “Prosperous Armenia” party…The OSCE declared the elections something like pretty good…(source)
I guess the biggest concern people have is the continued reliance on vote buying in Armenia. Martuni or Bust!‘s Ara M. has posted an article by RFE/RL Armenia Report on the vote buying practice:
`According to our information, the Prosperous Armenia Party is handing out 25,000-dram bribes in some places, while the Republican Party is handing out 15,000 drams ($42) all over the country,’ claimed [Aram] Karapetian [the leader of a radical opposition party, Nor Zhamanakner]. (source)
Also, Onnik Krikorian’s OneWorld Multimedia has a short post (with great pic) on the election tally here.
Coincidentally, it’s important to note that the gender-quota law that was passed in 2005 are pushing political parties to include more women on the ballot–the last Armenian parliament had only 7 women out of 131 parliamentarians (article on WeNews).
Photos via TIRAMI SU.
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