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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Heritage will not participate in Yerevan municipal election

Heritage will not participate in Yerevan municipal election. According to A1+, this decision would be formally announced soon. Today at 6pm is a deadline to submit party lists to the electoral commission.

I am not surprised with the decision and could see this coming. Failing to agree re the united list of candidates with the ANC, this is the right decision to make. I am saddened that we won’t see Heritage party’s representatives directly contesting the election as part of the opposition alliance. However, this will diminish the damage to the reputation of Heritage party being heavily criticised from the pro-opposition side and 'supported' by pro-government forces (nothing could be more damaging to the reputation of opposition party than the latter, and the authorities know this perfectly). This will also do less harm to the opposition chances compared with Heritage’s separate participation, as the authorities won’t be able to use them (without their consent, of course) to ‘picture’ free and fair election.

Heritage have representatives in local electoral commissions, and will be important in monitoring the fairness of the process, as this issue should be above all sorts of personal and inter-party quarrels. Having relatively free and fair election in Yerevan would set an important precedent for future elections to come. Armenia needs such precedent.

*photo - via A1+ blog

10 comments:

Onnik Krikorian said...

Mika,

Two things. Firstly, although I and others have been confused by the actions of Heritage of late, I still would have thought participation would have been a good thing.

For example, if the vote was free and fair they would have had seats on the municipal council and thus had some say in determining the Mayor if nobody gains a majority (even under the 40 percent bonus system).

I also think that as society remains polarized with a sizeable number of voters who might dislike the authorities, but not necessarily support Ter-Petrossian, a third opposition party participating in the election might have been useful.

Regardless, given the power that an elected Mayor will have, I can't see the government allowing the chance for Ter-Petrossian to win. Remember, what's the biggest problem we've been having of late?

The authorization of opposition rallies in Yerevan, and that's on top of everything else the Mayor would represent as well as the power in the political and economic heart of the country he'd have at his disposal.

Still, as I've said before, I believe these elections have to be taken seriously, and yes, they do almost represent a vote of confidence in the authorities backed up by the significance of an elected Mayor in a country as small as Armenia.

However, I wonder if and when the intimidation and vote-buying will start. I am sure the government would love this vote to go smoothly, but there are two specific issues here.

i) the power an elected Mayor represents.

ii) because it is a municipal election do no expect more than say a dozen international observers in town to observe the vote.

All in all, I'm fearing the worst, but hope for the best. Would really like to see a clean vote, but the stakes are high and I think this is what might force a knee-jerk reaction from the authorities.

Still, let's see.

artmika said...

I think the main issue here is "if the vote was free and fair". In that case, I'd love to see Heritage's separate participation for all the reasons you mentioned.

Sadly, all the efforts now should be directed to make the vote relatively free and fair. But I agree, taking into account the stakes are too high, chances for that do not look very optimistic, and I am afraid for the worst too, although hoping for the better.

Ani said...

If this is the final decision, it’s consistent with Heritage’s moves lately (Raffi boycotting the CoE and the party discussing withdrawing from the Assembly). It’s an agreement to disagree (within Heritage ranks as well as within the opposition), so it does preserve the party, although if it continues to choose to stay on the sidelines it risks being preserved in amber. Probably if that 40% provision hadn’t been instituted, the decision would have been different.

Regarding “free and fair” elections, an important, intriguing and sure to be highly controversial book about elections and democracy has just been published: "Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places" by Paul Collier (Harper/Harper Collins). It's controversial because of his interventionist prescriptions, more than his reporting.

Here's a link to today’s New York Times book review written by the executive director of Human Rights Watch, and a few quotes from it:

http://tinyurl.com/cyk88l

These days no self-respecting government wants to present itself on the world stage without the legitimacy of a democratic mantle. Elections are now de rigueur, even if many a despot rejects the idea of actually abiding by voter preferences.
[...]
They get away with this charade in part because the Western democracies that might be expected to demand the real thing have economic and strategic incentives to settle for farce. Rather than insist on the elements of democracy that make it meaningful — a free press, a vigorous civil society, the rule of law, a fair and transparent process for counting ballots — they close their eyes to electoral travesty.
[...]
The West’s mistaken fixation with elections, according to Collier, has mainly to do with lingering cold war habits. The Soviet dread of the ballot, he writes, “confused us into thinking that achieving a competitive election is in itself the key triumph. The reality is that rigging elections is not daunting: only the truly paranoid dictators avoid them.”

Still, electoral shortcomings in these countries do not mean we should give up on democracy altogether. It’s the cheap imitation that should give us pause. As Collier explains, “democracy is a force for good” as long as it is more than a ¬“facade.”
[...]

Anonymous said...

it's pity. I hoped to go to the elections, now I don't see any light here. two idiotic groups with their clans and clients and the hope that the others haters are more then theirs :(((((((((((((((

... and seems that two groups are happy/ready with the repetition of march 1, it may open opportunity to regain/show power. These zero sum players, do they realize that they ruin the country?

artmika said...

Heritage party calls its supporters and Yerevan residents to vote for the opposition during upcoming Yerevan municipal election. (official statement published today)

They stressed the importance of mayoral election in Yerevan, and consider this an opportunity for a precedent of free and fair elections. They explained that due to the low political culture in Armenia, they considered as counter-effective having 2 opposition parties contesting the election. That’s the reason that failing to agree the united list of candidates with the opposition Armenian National Congress, they decided in favour of not participation with a separate list.

Heritage party assured that they will monitor elections via their representatives.

Their statement is pretty much in line with my thoughts expressed in this post.

My respects to Heritage party.

Ani said...

According to A1plus, vote buying attempts by the Republican and Prosperous Armenia parties have already started:

http://www.a1plus.am/en/politics/2009/03/23/electoral-list

Lragir's Hakob Badalyan writes an interesting commentary on Heritage--unfortunately, Lragir still doesn't link properly:

[...]
Fortunately, the decision of the Heritage brought to the minimum the possibilities of the governmental benefits. But, perhaps, nothing is finished by the Heritage decision, but only started. The behaviour of the Heritage will be very important during the forthcoming period, in the pre-electoral period as well. The Heritage will either get involved in the tactical scheme of the opposition; if it has such a wish than the HAK had better give a great chance of realizing it, or the Heritage will assume the role of a victim and will act like a victim of the HAK blackmail and will look forward to the failure of the HAK in the Yerevan Mayor election, for then saying “You wanted us not to disturb you; we did not. But look, that you are unable to win.” The process will show the behaviour of the Heritage, besides its statements on supporting the Congress. The point is just that the Heritage behaviour will determine not the future of the opposition but the Heritage itself.
-----------------

Now that I've sufficiently buried it, I just have to share my idea for a new Heritage motto: "Don't let us stop you!" ;)

Anonymous said...

///The point is just that the Heritage behavior will determine not the future of the opposition but the Heritage itself.///

This is funny :))))))))))))))
This is the greatest paraphrase of "with us or against us" I have seen ever!!!

And can someone explain me what is opposition in this sentence to understand it's future?

Hope that wise people will understand of the evilness of this clientele politics. So LTP and HHK approach similarly to others, come and become my client. Poor heritage, suicide is the only solution.

mahendra said...

Election problem are always like that....

armnationalcongress said...

Anonymous why dont you just tell us that you are pigh?Even if you dont say we understand it quite well so dont be an idiot!
The deceision of heritage is very clear they understood that if they participate in the ellections separately they would play the role of dhol artashes gegamyan (2003) or AXQ arturik baxdasarian so they understood that they will lose both their reputation and the party.
This deceision was difficult enough but it was made under the extremally preasure of the party members of herritage.The party members showed us that they have a real power inside the party which makes me very happy.
The choise is clear then ever or you are voting for the oppossition, or you are voting for serjik`s banditocratic regime (even if you boycote the ellections and dont go to the poll)
The political field was never been so clear during the past 10 years!
As pashinyan writes today in his report soon serjik will have to move his residency to Aparan after president Ter-Petrosian won the ellections
So
Struggle ! Struggle ! To The End !

Anonymous said...

///if they participate in the ellections separately they would play the role of dhol artashes gegamyan (2003) or AXQ arturik baxdasarian so they understood that they will lose both their reputation and the party.///

Unfortunately this is not simply a bubbled myth but a threat from ANC to Heritage which worked well.

I am tired of this blackmail type propaganda.