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Saturday, 9 February 2008

Levon Ter-Petrosyan: gaining momentum

This was the most successful rally of former president and presidential hopeful Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Participants of the rally told me that Liberty sq and surrounding areas were full of people, and they reckon it was the most attended rally in recent years. This time people from much varied backgrounds and more young people attended too. Interestingly, some of the people who were in the rally said that they somehow felt the atmosphere of 88s when Karabakh movement just started and eventually brought Levon and others to power. Most significantly, while substantial proportion of people in prime minister and presidential hopeful Serj Sargsyan rallies are ‘ordered’ to attend using all sort of administrative pressures and resources, here people come because they want to come.

As to the unification of opposition leaders behind Levon Ter-Petrosyan, according to sources in Arthur Baghdasaryan’s Orinats Erkir opposition party, Arthur is behind Levon, negotiations are still in process and they will announce their support by 14th of February. The reasoning behind this is the desire to use campaigning, including by TV channels, as full as possible. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. I am not sure whether it’s right to wait, instead of announcing it now, but let’s see.

Next rally will be on 16 February, at 3pm, in Liberty sq.



*video via A1+

12 comments:

Onnik Krikorian said...

The rally was slightly larger than yesterday's Dashnak rally. Video of that is here. I say that mainly because of the stage erected at the front which occupied space which would have been full of people today.

As for Artur Baghdasarian, that decision might prove more confusing than useful. If he does join, his name will still be on the ballots and will confuse voters.That's why a decision should have been made today before they start printing the ballots.

Some might not even hear he's joined if that does actually turn out to be the case. Anyway, not long to go now until we know. The British Populus organizations puts Baghdasarian and Ter-Petrossian's rating combined at 26 percent.

Yes, I know, you'll say it was fixed, as if a reputable British polling company would risk damaging their credibility and lose future work (it does election polls for The Times among others).

Meanwhile, Ter-Petrossian could commission polls from leading organizations and release the results, but notice, he doesn't.

artmika said...

Re polls: Yes, I have big doubts about credibility of pre-election polls in Armenia for several reasons.

Recent polls conducted by Gallup and Populus provided with pretty different results in terms of numbers, even considering statistical variability, which you won’t expect if they were conducted in a proper statistically valid and reliable way.

Then, I may consider, say, British Populus poll results believable only if they provide with detailed info on who actually conducted polls in Armenia on their behalf. Unless they are truly independent structures and not discredited sociological association or similar Armenian agencies, I will not trust their polls.

And third, few weeks ago I was discussing opinion polls with someone (he is studying politics in the UK with special interest in South Caucasus) who recently visited Yerevan and Tbilisi. He noticed pretty striking differences between Armenian and Georgian public in terms of expressing their political views. He tried to ask random people in Yerevan and Tbilisi on who they will vote for in upcoming elections. While Georgians were pretty open in expressing their preferences, Armenians were pretty reluctant in doing so openly.

These are the reasons that despite my initial support for the idea of exit polls, I agreed with US decision to withdraw their proposal (and I still consider exit polls an important tool and they eventually have to be introduced properly in Armenia).

Unless my above concerns are addressed, I would have no trust whatsoever in any of politics or election related polls in Armenia, even if they are conducted under the umbrella of reputable international organisations.

Haik said...

I wouldn't call it a rally but the kick off the movement or a victory celebration.

I am not quite sure if you read /heard Levon's today's speech, I have one word for it: groundbreaking.
You can read the main parts by following the below link and also watch a short clip.
http://www.levonforpresident.com/am/33/
Re the number of people, if you consider the recent oppressions against LTP supporters, the agressive campaign against him the number of people who showed up is impressive.
All of these combined I can confidently declare that Levon will be the next president.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Then, I may consider, say, British Populus poll results believable only if they provide with detailed info on who actually conducted polls in Armenia on their behalf. Unless they are truly independent structures and not discredited sociological association or similar Armenian agencies, I will not trust their polls.

So they're in Britain -- go ask them instead of accusing them of mismanaging their polls. However, I suspect you just don't want to accept the results, but anyway.

However, I say again, why hasn't Levon commissioned any polls by a REPUTABLE organization and released the results? That would be a normal response, but nothing.

Meanwhile, Artur doesn't seem to eager to jump on board. The argument about TV access is rather lame given that if it is true they're going to lose a LOT of votes on election day.

Actually, even if he wants to, he can't drop out. It's too late. His name is now on the ballot papers and people will vote for him even if because they don't know otherwise.

Actually, one imagines it would also represent a possible option for a protest vote by OYP supporters and the many others who dislike Levon as much as Serge, and sometimes even more.

Onnik Krikorian said...

BTW: Another possibility about Baghdasarian not joining Ter-Petrossian is that they'd wait until they see who gets the most votes in the first round and is effectively highlighted as the united opposition candidate. It would also still allow joint opposition protests if the vote doesn't go to a second round and all indications are that it should.

Plus, once a united opposition figure is naturally identified, they can then count on Raffi Hovannisian and Heritage's support which is what they have maintained they would do in a second round.

That is, unless Baghdasarian and/or Hovannisian don't support Ter-Petrossian before election day. However, as I said, this is problematic as Baghdasarian's name will still be on the ballots and Hovannisian risks splintering Heritage unless he holds an internal vote among party members.

Dunno, the support a candidate in a second round sounds the most democratic and logical, but is of course fraught with risks.

artmika said...

Onnik, re your previous comment, I think it’s unfair when you suspect that I “just don't want to accept the [poll] results” implying that I am biased because of my clearly stated position ahead of elections. I write here what I believe in, am always honest in stating my position, whether when criticising or when supporting, and never support or criticise someone or something blindly. I am independent individual, without any affiliation with any political party or organisation whatsoever. Of course, it’s your right to doubt, but that’s all I want to say re that particular matter.

I am afraid I do not have time to contact Populus, there are plenty of people out there who could and should do it, and it does not matter whether they live in Britain, in Armenia, or anywhere else, and I urge them to do it. What I am doing here is raising legitimate concerns re validity of election polls in general, including by Populus (all my three points, as in my previous comment). In any case, I am sure that Populus is aware of serious concerns in Armenia re their (and other) pre-election poll validity and reliability. And instead of simply saying that ‘we are behind the results’, they’d rather address particular criticism expressed elsewhere in Armenian media too. Unless viewed within the realities of local circumstances, even the most perfect Western methodology applied to other settings risk high levels of uncertainties and failures.

Theoretically I would like to see polls commissioned by Ter-Petrosyan and other candidates and conducted by reputable organisations. However, in practice, all my concerns expressed would be applicable to those polls too, and no one (myself including) will seriously consider them anything but propaganda tool. Unless we witness democratisation of social and political life in Armenia, when people would not afraid to openly speak up their mind, the fate of conducted polls will be similar.

As to opposition unification, yes there could be various possibilities in terms of tactics, and as I said I am not sure that it was the right decision to wait (if of course, as predicted, Arthur goes ahead with quitting the race), because this certainly may confuse at least part of voters and some may still vote for Arthur Baghdasaryan for whatever reason. In any case, although I believe that the best option is missed already, I would welcome any unification at any stage. And yes, I can’t see anything but two round votes for these elections.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Theoretically I would like to see polls commissioned by Ter-Petrosyan and other candidates and conducted by reputable organisations. However, in practice, all my concerns expressed would be applicable to those polls too, and no one (myself including) will seriously consider them anything but propaganda tool.

I guess my point is that when someone from a political team criticizes a poll they should at least be able to produce their own (with open methodology etc) to compare. Like, Populus says 50.7 percent for Serge, but our poll from a reputable polling organization shows xx percent.

Otherwise, I consider it actually to be undemocratic to condemn polls without being able to produce something to offer instead. And it's not impossible for them to do so.

The closest I've come so far is when Aramazd left a comment saying 22 percent support for Levon in Yerevan with 17 percent for Serge, although no other details were given or how those figures were arrived at.

The poll, if it was one, was not otherwise mentioned at all. Anyway, my point is that people are accusing everyone of everything in this election, but without anything to back their argument up. This is also why nobody outside of the country cares who actually wins the election.

Basically, none of the candidates are showing themselves to be playing by the rules or engaging in a mature campaign. Some are better than others, but overall it's all mudslinging, abuse and accusations.

We have a more democratic environment for the election this time round, but some of the candidates are taking the piss, in my opinion.

artmika said...

From what I get based on Arthur Baghdasaryan statements today, despite continuing negotiations and not excluding any possibility, he is confident that he will pass the first round of voting and leaning towards participation in it, and forming united bloc during the second round depending on who will pass it. Ironically, he speculates that it may be he and Levon who will pass the first round, not Serj, which is of course laughable.

(source: http://www.a1plus.am/amu/?page=issue&iid=57423)

Not sure how effective this tactic will be, but hey that's a reality, soon things will become clearer.

artmika said...

... and speaking to Radio Liberty, prime minister Serj Sargsyan said that he was confident that no one would quit the race, and there would be no unification of opposition leaders.

"Because, as they say, we know our customers," - concluded Serj Sargsyan

(source: http://azatutyun.am/armeniareport/report/ar/2008/02/82833216-D3B6-42BD-A46B-E42DCE9BF9A6.ASP)

This last statement is one of many language 'masterpieces' of our prime minister :)

artmika said...

History in making: Opposition unites behind Levon Ter-Petrosyan ahead of presidential elections in Armenia

artmika said...

Arthur the loser, or the best hope for prime minister Serj Sargsyan

artmika said...

Re polls (follow-up): Director of British Populus Andrew Cooper confirms in an interview with Azg newspaper my worst fears that their poll was actually conducted by Armenian Sociological Association. Why can't all these Western agencies understand that anything connected with Armenian Sociological Association will not be accepted by Armenian public with trust. All other explanations about checkings etc do not worth much. Shame, really...

Anyway, the full interview is here