- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 25, 2003 

The Cost of Candidacy: Program calls for expense accountability in upcoming election

Arevik Saripegyan makes a point to members of political parties.

A program aimed at supporting more transparent elections was launched last week in Yerevan in preparation for next month's Parliamentary elections.

Sponsored by the Open Society Institute, the program is an application of projects successfully carried out in other post-Soviet countries.

Called the Center for Regional Development Transparency International Armenia (CRDTIA), the program focuses on disclosing of candidate expenditures.

Leader of CRDTIA, Arevik Saribekyan, says a successful execution would "keep society informed and contribute to provision of healthy and equal competitive conditions."

The program invites political parties to present information on their financial resources and expenses. Participation is voluntary.

A CRDTIA expert on political parties, Varuzhan Hoktanyan says, "if they don't cooperate then it means there is no transparency at all. However, in spite of everything the independent monitoring will be taking place."

Monitoring will be carried out by the Yerevan Press Club, which will gather information on how much parties spend for political advertisement on television, in newspapers and on campaign posters.

In case parties agree to cooperate with CRDTIA, the information they provide will be compared to that gathered by the independent monitors.

"The final results will be published after elections so that it could have no influence on the process of elections," says Saribekyan.

Organizers don't expect much voluntary cooperation from the political parties.

"Imperfections of the law on elections and the unstable legal and political culture don't provide grounds for a successful program," says Aram Harutyunyan, leader of the National Accord party. "However, I'm sure that the emphasis which will be made by the program will allow an increase in the level of transparency."

At the conclusion of the program (expected to last three and a half months), CRDTIA will present its information with appropriate suggestions for legislative changes to address election transparency issues.

"This program will help to increase the level of trust of the society towards political parties," Hoktanyan says. "It will help to form the process of elections in Armenia."

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  Photo of the week
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Pain in Paint

Yesterday (April 24) members of Mihr youth organization gathered in a park near the State Conservatory where they used black (tragedy) and red (blood) paint to depict Mt. Ararat from its western side. On a white canvas they painted names of villages where Genocide took place.



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