Take a sneak peek at the policies behind the political personalities.

It is the social ill that seems eternal. With every election campaign in Armenia, candidates vow to fight corruption. But the details, as shown below, often come secondary to the promises themselves. Although the government has waged an official war on corruption since 2003, the problem still looms large. In 2006, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Armenia 94th out of 159 surveyed countries for perceived corruption among government and politicians -- better than Syria, but worse than Panama.
Candidate Positions
Serzh Sarkisian:
Opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian may present the Armenian prime minister as one of the leading architects of the country's corruption woes, but Sarkisian himself pleads not guilty. "Tax evasion and graft will be regarded as dishonorable phenomena condemned by society. Personal ties will not be considered and all those who evade taxes and tolerate this vicious phenomenon will not be regarded as friends or fellow party members," his campaign program reads.

Vazgen Manukian:
Manukian proposes taking as an example the experience of post-Soviet Estonia in battling corruption and abuse of office. Registration of businesses, submission of tax reports, obtaining licenses and other permits should be implemented online, he says. He also calls for revisiting judiciary system legislation to fight corruption within the court system, but has not offered a detailed plan on relevant judicial reform.

Aram Harutiunian:
Harutiunian holds that those "involved in corrupt practices must be unacceptable for our society like an immoral woman, when a normal woman does not wish to stand next to her." The candidate does not elaborate how specifically to foster that perception, but argues that "[u]ntil society rejects this phenomenon, problems will not be solved."

Levon Ter-Petrosian:
He has called the government overseen by President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Sarkisian "a robber's regime." His plan of action amounts, essentially, to a change of that "regime." He argues that prosecutors, police and the security service must themselves struggle against this phenomenon, although, at the same time, also identifies them as part of the problem. He has pledged an "uncompromising struggle" against abuse of office, bribery, extortion, and various economic crimes.

Arman Melikian:
Melikian puts the blame on "the system" rather than on individual political figures. "The corrupt government system does not allow anyone -- authorities, non-governmental organizations, economic agents or citizens -- to act in keeping with the law," he declares. To uproot corruption, the candidate proposes making the salaries of high-ranking decisionmakers comensurate with the posts that they hold.

Vahan Hovhannisian:
The deputy parliamentary speaker "guarantees" a full-fledged struggle against corruption if he is elected president, noting -- in keeping with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation's frequently opposition-friendly talking points -- that there currently is "no organized struggle against corruption" and that "impunity" and "protectionism" hold sway. Despite the criticism that may suggest otherwise to a foreign audience, Hovhannisian's party is a member of Armenia's ruling coalition.

Tigran Karapetian:
Karapetian keeps his proposals brief: He urges supporters "not to take election bribes and not to become hostages" to bribery.

Artur Baghdasarian:
Baghdasarian in his campaign platform promises an uncompromising struggle against the "political patrons" of Armenia's allegedly clan-based economy, and against the formation of government ties with oligarchs -- an apparent oblique reference to Gagik Tsarukian, head of the pro-government Prosperous Armenia Party, which has previously sided with Prime Minister Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia.

There's more to the campaign than corruption alone. Take a survey of other issues driving the race.
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Get a fresh vantage point on Armenia's election tussle with political cartoons from E-Channel.am.

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