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Speaking to the Voters: Breaking the ‘Day of Silence’

The Armenian Weekly Speaks to the Citizens on the Streets of Yerevan a Day Ahead of the 2017 Parliamentary Elections

YEREVAN (A.W.)—In Armenia, the day before the any election is known as the “day of silence.” Participating political parties and blocs are not allowed to campaign in any way. As a result, there is an ominous calm throughout the usually-bustling city center.

Speaking to the voters on the streets of Yerevan (Photos: Araz Chiloyan)

Tomorrow, at 8 a.m. 2,009 election precincts will open and Armenian citizens will cast their ballots for the first Parliamentary elections conducted under Armenia’s revised Constitution. The National Assembly (Parliament) that is elected will be the country’s main legislative force.

The Armenian Weekly decided to hit the streets of Yerevan to speak to Armenian citizens ahead of the April 2 vote—to ask whether or not they will be participating and why. Here’s what they had to say on this particularly gray—and particularly quiet—Yerevan afternoon…

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Victoria (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Victoria, Nurse

“I will vote tomorrow with the hope that there will be necessary change in our country. It’s important to vote because there are a lot of problems here in Armenia and you want to do something about it, then voting is the first step.”

 

Kolya (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Kolya, Computer Programmer

Of course I’m going to vote… Why wouldn’t I? My voice has to count and the best way for it to count is by voting. If someone doesn’t vote, he or she doesn’t have the right to complain about the situation they live in. One day, their kids will hold them accountable.”

 

Nune (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Nune, Travel Agent

“I’ve noticed that our people have a greater sense of hope this time around…especially the youth. They know that by voting, their voices can be heard. They also know that it is their civic duty to do so. I’ll give you an example. I had a group of young people—they were maybe 24-25 years-old—inquire about a vacation package that was on sale. They couldn’t believe how great the deal was, but quickly decided not to go when they were told that the deal was for a specific dates and that they wouldn’t be here on election day. That’s dedication. That means that these kids are convinced that it is their duty to vote. I will vote because I live here, because my friends and family live here, and because we are in in for the long haul. I’m not ready to leave anytime soon. So it’s very important to participate as long as the youth continue to inspire me.”

 

Alex (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Alex, Student/Model/Actor

“No. I wish I could vote tomorrow, but I’m not old enough. I really wish I could, since the idea of voting is very important to me. The future of our country relies on these elections. Since the situation here isn’t all that great, and since people always call for change, then whoever has the right to vote, should vote.”

 

Tatev (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Tatev, Artistic Director

“Of course I will be participating, because if everyone goes to vote tomorrow, then there can be real change in the country—change the people actually want. To me, the democratic process is very important—probably the most important way to effect change—and so it would be hypocritical of me not to go and vote tomorrow.”

 

Armen (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Armen, Educator

“I live in Shushi, and unfortunately, I don’t have the right to vote here [in Yerevan], but I surely would be casting my ballot if I did. Voting is the most important right a citizen has. By voting, you decide the fate your country and I would surely to take advantage of that. I’d try to convice others to do so as well. I’ve noticed an greater level of interest among the youth here.  There are some problems with sure, especially with campaigning. I’ve noticed how government resources are clearly exploited. But that’s no reason not to vote.”

 

Astghik (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Astghik, Stage designer

“I’m going to vote, without a doubt! My country’s future is important to me. If people want to decide their future and the future of their country, then they have to vote. I make sure to vote in every election. It’s my right and my duty as a citizen.”

 

Davit (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Davit, Musician

“No. I won’t be voting and I don’t think anyone else should vote either. If we don’t mobilize and boycott these elections en masse, nothing will change. The country is not in good shape—there are lots of problems here. Sure, I love my country, but I don’t think we can change anything through our vote. I don’t think our voices are heard.”

 

Irina (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Irina, University student

“It’s actually my first time voting, so I’m pretty excited to participate. I really want my vote to be heard. It’s important to vote and for those votes to be heard. All my friends and family also vote, but it was my decision to participate this year.”

 

Gagik (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Gagik, Taxi driver

“Yes. I will be voting, just like I do every year. It’s quite simple: if you live in a democratic country—and we all should have faith that this is a democratic country—then you must vote. It’s your duty. I want [Armenia’s] future to be better, so I will vote tomorrow.”

 

Edviga (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Edviga, University student  

“I’m voting tomorrow so that the voice of the youth is heard. The youth [in Armenia] want a change and the best step anyone could take for real change is to participate in the political process. It’s my first time voting and I’m really looking forward to it.”

 

Armineh (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Armineh, Computer programmer

“I’m undecided—not about who I’m voting for, but about whether or not I will vote at all. I am not convinced about a particular candidate who is running in my area. I believe in the party’s platform, but he hasn’t convinced me just yet. The democratic process is very important to me, which makes my decision that much harder. Basically, it’s very complicated…”

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