Despite Hayrikyan shooting, Sargsyan remains lock for Armenian election


Armenia’s looming February 18 presidential election made headlines a weekend ago when one of its candidate, Paruyr Hayrikyan (Պարոյր Հայրիկեան), was shot.armenia flag

Despite the assassination attempt, however, the election will go on as scheduled, and Hayrikyan has withdrawn a court application to delay the election by two weeks, despite an unsuccessful attempt to obtain the united backing of all opposition candidates behind his campaign.

With or without the delay, however, the election’s result was never incredibly in doubt — Serzh Sargsyan (Սերժ Սարգսյան) is the overwhelming favorite to be reelected as Armenia’s president, in a country with uncertain democratic norms and with several economic and geopolitical problems facing it in the years ahead, including complex relations with the United States, Europe, Russia, Turkey and its neighbors in the South Caucasus.

Despite the fact that Armenian media has focused intensely on the Hayrikyan assassination attempt in the past two weeks, the latest polls shows that Sargsyan (pictured above with Russian prime minister and former Russian president Dmitri Medvedev) will easily win the contest with nearly 68% of Armenians supporting his candidacy, with just 24% supporting Raffi Hovannisian (Րաֆֆի Հովհաննիսյան), with only 5% supporting Hayrikyan and none of the other five candidates winning more than 2% of the vote.

Though elections in Armenia have the trappings of democracy, and they are, in fact, freer and fairer than the show elections of, say, Belarus, they are often rigged in favor of the governing party — and since the collapse of the Soviet Union, that’s meant first the administration of president Levon Ter-Petrosyan from 1991 to 1998, his successor Robert Kocharyan from 1998 to 2008 and now, Kocharyan’s protége, Sargsyan since 2008. Continue reading Despite Hayrikyan shooting, Sargsyan remains lock for Armenian election

First Past the Post: Feb. 12 (papal abdication edition)


East and South Asia

North Korea has confirmed a nuclear test.

Japan wants to goose its stock market by 17% in the next seven weeks.  Felix Salmon has some thoughts.

The view on papal succession from India: ‘Wanted, a new pope: White, European and old.’

A closer look at the 2nd prime minister appointee for South Korea, former prosecutor Chung Hong-won.

North America

Pope Benedict XVI’s influence on American politics.

U.S. president Barack Obama is expected to take a particularly aggressive tone with Congress in tonight’s annual state of the union address.

Kathleen Wynne has become Ontario’s premier and chosen Ontario’s new cabinet.

U.K.-born, U.S.-resident, gay Catholic blogger extraordinaire Andrew Sullivan’s take on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is as solid as anyone’s.  What I wouldn’t give to read an original Christopher Hitchens column today.

Cardinal Mark Ouellet gets rave reviews from The Montreal Gazette and from The Globe and Mail.

Latin America / Caribbean

Francisco Toro on the Venezuelan bolivar’s devaluation.

The #YoSoy132 movement in México launches a magazine.  [Spanish]

Austin “SuperBlue” Lyons and Machel Montano will share the ‘soca monarch’ title in 2013 after Trinidad’s carnival.

The view of papal succession from Latin America.

A profile of Rafael Correa in advance of his likely reelection on February 17.

Epsy Campbell will run for president in Costa Rica in 2014.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya held its first-ever presidential debate Tuesday.

Frontrunner Raila Odinga taunted his opponent Uhuru Kenyatta over his war crimes trial at the ICC.


The political rift deepens in Georgia. (Latest on the talks here).

BBC’s primer on electing a new pope.

A little late, but The Economist‘s thoughtful piece on the Nordic economic model.

Labour leads the Conservatives in the United Kingdom by 12 points, according to a new poll.

Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta gets saddled into the horsemeat scandal.

Is fascism making a comeback in Italy?

Serbian prime minister Ivica Dačić is still taking heat from alleged ties to a drug lord.

You should be prepared to check early and often at Rocco Palmo’s Vatican blog over the next six weeks.

The take on Benedict from Poland (where, predictably, he remains most fully in the shadow of his Polish predecessor, John Paul II).

The Czech left doesn’t seem set to merge anytime soon.

Russian opposition activist Sergei Udaltsov is placed under house arrest.

A political science approach to the upcoming papal enclave.

Speigel previews the upcoming Austrian election year.

The Cyprus bailout will likely come in March after the presidential election.

Middle East and North Africa

Violence hits Yemen on the two-year anniversary of the 2011 protests.

The latest over a potential new unity government in Tunisia.

Racing against time in Lebanon to craft a new elections law.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition possibilities tighten.

Turkey reaches out to Europe to help it stop the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).


Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd wants you (or Julia Gillard, perhaps) to call him, maybe.

A New Zealand MP wants to ban Muslims from flights.