March 15, 10 days after President Robert Kocharyan
won re-election over Stepan Demirchyan, Presidential
elections again were held.
This time it was not a continuation of the bad
dream many saw over the past two months as Armenia
elected a leader in a flawed and controversial
This time there were nine candidates for the
presidential post. No bodyguards, no political
advertisement, no demonstrations. In a dramatic
departure from the real election, six of the candidates
These elections last Saturday took place in one
of Yerevan's largest schools Mkhitar Sebastatsi,
as it elected a student president through part
of a project of the US "Step by Step"
"Candidates are pupils of the seven through
10 forms," said teacher of civil rights and
history and faculty supervisor Gevorg Manukyan.
"They are pupils who, besides having good
marks, had also been welcomed and supported by
other pupils and teachers and who wish to hold
that responsible post."
attached their programs, slogans and pictures
to the school walls and they, influenced by the
past elections, had been visiting polling stations
carefully watching the election's process. Voters
had been attentively reading pre-election programs,
looking at pictures and loudly discussing who
they were going to vote for.
It is the first time the educational complex
(which consists of several schools and has a few
thousand students) has held such an election,
and the program is aimed at helping students understand
the rights and responsibilities of voting in a
"Of course, this year's Presidential elections
taken place in the republic have left its influence
on all of this," said school director Ashot
Bleyan. "But I think it is also the children's
own verdict as these days pupils' democracy is
so highly expressed that it must have been displayed
The students' democracy was manifested in the
sole polling station, which was located in the
white and marble hall of the school. In the center
of the hall a chair and a table for voting were
placed. A big voting box was placed in the distance
of several steps away in front of the table. Proxies
were watching that box. However, the real fuss
was taking place outside the polling station,
where friends and relatives of the candidates
were trying to persuade voters to vote for their
One of the most active campaigners was teenager
Garnik Sargsyan, who since morning had been convincing
everyone he knew or he didn't to vote for his
"I give hope. I say that everything will
be much better if my brother is elected,"
Sargsyan said. "I've already managed to convince
many people, of course sometimes it happens when
Following rules designed for the real Presidential
elections, no campaigning was allowed inside the
school's polling station. And, like the real thing,
supporters were hoping for appointments to their
candidate's administration as reward for their
said the school president will form his or her
administration and each member of the administration
will be responsible for different sectors. Pupils'
administration of the school will be responsible
for improving cultural, scientific, sport and
other fields as well as creating cooperation with
The elected president will serve the school year.
And, if his or her performance is not satisfactory,
a student council has the right to impeach and
call for extraordinary elections.
Having made their choice based on campaigns,
students approached the table, marked a ballot,
then folded it four times before placing it in
the ballot box - all under the watch of seven
"In general, the elections passed without
serious violations," said proxy Emma Grigoryan.
But 15-year old Emma said a couple of proxies
were trying to influence votes inside the polling
station "which is regarded as a serious violation
of the regulations. Of course we tried to prevent
cases like that as much as possible."
According to the regulations' order the calculations
of elections' results lasted several hours. The
polling station was closed, voting box was opened
and calculation had been started, during which
proxies were present.
And, just like in the February 19 Presidential
election for the Republic, first round voting
at Mkhitar Sebastatsi resulted in a runoff.
Students will return to the polls tomorrow to
choose between Sergey Sargsyan, 15 and Astghik
Abrahamyan, also 15.
"Let's hope that everything will be normal,"
Bleyan said. "If the president is elected
legally then we will respect and cooperate with
the pupil for sure."