Thursday, 10 May 2007

Will there be end of Armenia’s ‘potato democracy’?

I wanted to post this last part of my “pre-election thoughts” yesterday, but then... breaking news on pre-election violence against peaceful protesters in Yerevan preoccupied all my thoughts... Last night events (and not only) made it clear that the situation we are in is the reflection of the state of ‘democracy’ we are in, ‘potato democracy’, as some will call it. And suddenly my brief thoughts written a day before the events seem very current now.

My pre-election thoughts (part 3)

Potato? Potato!

If people get potatoes and go to the elections with them, these people will have a potato government and a potato democracy.
Armen Rustamyan, one of the leaders of the Dashnaktsutyun party

When I first read
this article couple of months ago, in the run-up to the Armenian parliamentary elections campaign, I felt uncomfortable reading “potato democracy” next to “Armenia”. I felt ashamed, to be honest. But the truth is frequently uncomfortable, we’ve got to face it.

People are buying votes; people are selling votes. It became so common... frighteningly common!

Sugar, wheat, money, ‘charitable’ initiatives... and, yes, sure, potatoes – everything can go. Some fresh examples were provided by

But the most hilarious example of facing up the truth and actually acting upon it was demonstrated by guys from Sksela youth movement. Few days ago they organised
‘election fair’ in Yerevan, where everything was on sale, from the ‘post of prime minister’ to the ‘monopoly in telecommunications’, even the ‘soul’, for ‘very good price’. Apparently, there is some light at the end of the tunnel to hit back.

Ever growing number of
Armenian blogs is another positive sign. They are not many, have no much audience or real power, as yet, but I can see them ‘happening’.

(Lack of) Trust in authorities

Lack of trust in authorities is the key issue. In this environment, whatever government does, will be met with suspicion. And no one will trust them, say with regards to recent arrests and interrogations of ex-ministers due to ‘money laundry’ allegations, even if they (theoretically!) true.

Instead of epilogue

I wish I could believe in fairy tale...

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