In the seventh part of its series of briefings on the 2012 Parliamentary elections in Armenia, LINKS Analysis looks at the results of two opinion polls released a few days before the elections, and their credibility.
If Opinion Polls are to be believed then the outgoing government in Armenia is one of the most popular in the world. According to the two main Opinion Poll organisers the three parties of the Coalition that kept the government in power over the last five years have between them over 75% of support amongst the decided voters, ahead of next Sunday’s Parliamentary elections. But not everybody agrees.
Adopting in post Soviet countries western style opinion polling, as well as exit polls on election day, has always been problematic. The political environment in most of these countries is considerably less free and tolerant. People are suspicious of pollsters thinking, not always wrongly, that they are acting on behalf of governments. Governments are not often kind to their adversaries so polls take place in an atmosphere of fear. Many opposition supporters therefore do not give their voting intention.
Analysts have mixed views on the accuracy of the polls. On the one hand some are saying that the big issue in this election is that between the two main parties of the former coalition: the Republican party headed by President Serzh Sargsyan and the Prosperous Armenia Party which carries the favour of former President Robert Kocharian, and is emboldened with having in the second place on its candidate list the former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan. Respected analyst Richard Giragosian, writing on commonspace.eu in January summed up the situation as ”a new political confrontation, representing a first ever conflict within the country’s political elite”. If that is the case then the opinion polls released last week may give an indication of where this confrontation is going.
Other analysts however dismiss the polls as part of an overall government strategy to create an aura of victory before the elections with a view to discouraging people from openly supporting opposition parties, and creating conditions that would make election manipulation easier.
Regardless of which version one wants to accept the polls offer some interesting reading. They should however not be taken too seriously since the chances of accuracy of opinion polls in the current Armenian political climate are limited. The poll that matters will take place on the 6th May and it is the result of that poll that must be accurate, and will determine Armenia’s future.
You can read this brieifing in full and previous briefings on the Armenian elections on the LINKS Analysis website
source: LINKS Analysis