Tag Archives: parliamentary elections

What happened on election day?


While walking my dog this evening I finally got to thinking about what went down on Sunday. Without having to do a lengthy, exhaustive analysis, I put what I know to use.

  1. Most people are discontent with the authorities in Armenia and are too spineless, lazy or clueless to do anything about it. This observation I gathered from my interactions with citizens over the last 10 years. So based on the logic that most people hate the authorities (unless they’re making money from their connection with them somehow, the number of those people being miniscule), there is no friggin’ way that 663,000 voters cast a ballot for the Republicans. Even if the entire Armenian army were forced to vote Republican, and every single public servant and state employee including teachers, doctors, etc. voted the same way, that would only amount to 100,000 at my guesstimate. Where’s the rest coming from–from those same morons who keep whining to me there’s no country and there’s no justice? Oh, I almost forgot about the guys crying about there being no laws. So what–they voted for the same people they loathe, the same people causing untold angst and psychological torment? Perhaps since there does seem to be a latent sadomasochistic element in the Armenian persona, but that’s a debate for another day. Back to proving my point.
  2. All the people I know voted for either the Heritage/Free Democrats alliance, ARF-Dashnaktsutyun or the Armenian National Congress. No one I know supports the authorities. Okay, I am mindful of the fact that I do not know over a half-million people in this country, but I am going to make an educated guess and say that there are many others that are like-minded as my family, friends and acquaintances.
  3. If indeed 663,000 ballots were not cast in the Republicans favor, not to mention the fact that there is no way you can actually falsify so many ballots to make it seem like the Republicans legitimately won, the only logical conclusion is that the numbers released by the Central Electoral Commission were invented, cleverly on a dynamic, rolling basis in “real time” all night long (there are many talented mathematicians in this great land and I’m sure they came up with a fantastic algorithm). We have yet to see the actual results because they are with the Commission under lock and key.

When do we get to see the actual results? Good question. Most of that depends on what deals have been brokered today. We still have tonight, too, to work out the important details of who gets what position or what’s in it for them. But if Prosperous Armenia Party is indeed serious about getting all democratic in this country as Oskanian keeps claiming, and the Armenian National Congress people still know how to say “fugget about it” tomorrow morning, not to mention the ARF and Heritage/Free Democrats being the bad asses they are born to be, we could have some protests and, dare I say, a movement to reverse what just happened. We might just see an Armenian public rising up, standing tall, demanding that the real election results be released, thereby putting the government at the mercy of the people for a change.

Eh, maybe not.

A Defeatist Nation

This article originally appeared on the Armenian Weekly web site.

With the Armenian National Assembly elections right around the corner slated for May 6, I am obliged to reflect upon the political situation of the last four years and contemplate where Armenia is headed. These elections will be the most important in this republic’s brief history as a test for the functioning of democracy, yet most people don’t realize it.

Whenever I meet someone for the first time here in Armenia a minute doesn’t pass before politics comes up in conversation. For the last seven or eight years I have heard countless people express their disgust in the Armenian government and authorities, that the country is not a country, there is no justice, the oligarchs do whatever they want and take advantage, and so forth. Indeed, not once have I met anyone who has told me that they approve of the regime in power — either backed (in Robert Kocharian’s case) or fully controlled by the Republican Party (along with its coalition partner parties). Nearly everyone has told me the same thing — the laws don’t work or there are no laws, and the judicial system is corrupted. They are desperate, hopeless and dwell in a self-imposed realm of defeatism, each playing the role of the eternal victim. They expect governmental reform without having to work for it, as if the authorities will magically one day realize that they shouldn’t lie to and cheat their citizens any longer. They want justice and good governance, but no one can agree on how it will be achieved and who will lead that reform movement. Meanwhile, the Armenian Diaspora remains silent, continuing to turn a blind eye to the lack of democracy and governmental irresponsibility.

Given the negative mindset in the motherland, one should come to the logical conclusion that the Republican Party will win less votes than it has in the past–despite election fraud that is bound to occur–making way for a new National Assembly controlled by a union of parties, albeit fragile, that have been in opposition. This ideal union would likely comprise the Armenian National Congress, ARF-Dashnaktsutyun, the Heritage Party and Free Democrats alliance, and the Prosperous Armenia Party, which has been keen to distance itself from the authorities in recent weeks although it refuses to officially break away from the pro-government coalition. This fresh National Assembly will also signal a new era in government, one where the demands of the people will conceivably be met and, as Raffi Hovannisian put it in my interview with him [link to http://hetq.am/eng/multimedia/videos/62/], emigration is reversed so that a wave of immigration displaces it. Nevertheless, the Republican Party’s notorious pre-election terror campaign of intimidation and harassment that has already been unleashed is bound to coerce many voters to cast ballots in their favor. The authorities are also counting on disenchanted citizens to sell them their votes for twenty bucks apiece.

The issues plaguing Armenia are too numerous to list. But the most relevant points to tackle in random order are the following: a reformed, competent and properly trained police force; an independent judicial system; a substantial increase in funding for social services including doubling the minimum wage and pensions (which all contending opposition parties are pushing); the renovation of schools and hospitals nationwide starting with the most remote areas first; the reconstruction of roads and infrastructure again with the most remote villages a priority; the encouragement for civil society to flourish; the break up of the trade monopolies, especially on staple foodstuffs to promote competition in the marketplace; incentives for small and medium-sized business ventures to start up; a four-fold increase in efforts to encourage foreign investment in the thriving Armenian IT sector; additional investments in the tourism industry; and the immediate cancellation of long-term environmentally devastating mining projects that would only benefit foreign investors (the local economy would not be positively affected by any means). The list can go on and on, but tacking the aforementioned issues is a good start to getting things on track in Armenia and reversing the trends of narcissism and greed that have been strangling this country for far too long.

Some argue that it will take decades and several generations to pass before the aforementioned issues even begin to be properly addressed. Unfortunately, we don’t have that long to wait. It’s been nearly twenty-one years since Armenia declared independence, and most citizens are no better off than they were then. Unofficial population estimates in Armenia are between 2-2.5 million. Entire villages have picked up and moved to remote parts of Russia where they have been provided housing and employment as part of a rural colonization scheme. The talented, technology savvy youth are leaving for the US, Canada and elsewhere–I personally know five software engineers that have emigrated during the last three years. Artsakh is continuously being emptied of its populace–only around 2,700 people are left in Shushi alone.

The new wealth and economic growth that is noticeable to foreigners and Armenians from the Diaspora is concentrated in central Yerevan–it is a mirage, actually a smokescreen obscuring what things are really like here. The sooner the Diaspora comprehends this and puts pressure on the Armenian government to get its act together, the more secure and yes, entrepreneurial Armenian citizens will be. But that reshaping cannot happen on its own, it needs stimulus; it requires motivation and dedicated hard work. It is dependent upon foresight and ingenuity. And it has to start right now.

Interview with Baroness Nicholson


For my last Hetq Online video interview on the parliamentary elections in Armenia I had the great pleasure of speaking with Baroness Nicholson, who is the head of the PACE elections monitoring delegation and one of the most charming women I have ever met in my life. She talked about the role of the parliamentary observers, the various aspects of the mission, progress in pre-election activities and her optimism for a brighter Armenia.

You can watch the video on the Hetq Online site.

Interview with Francois-Xavier de Donnea

de Donnea

In this interview that I conducted for Hetq, Francois-Xavier de Donnea, the special coordinator for the OSCE short-term observer mission to Armenia, talks about the structure and undertakings of the OSCE elections observation mission, the responsibilities of observers at polling stations, the importance of free and fair democratic parliamentary elections and the methods undertaken to prevent voting irregularities in subsequent elections.

Watch the video on Hetq Online.