Sunday, 15 March 2009

Ter-Petrosyan – Yerevan mayor? Clever move by Armenian opposition, and good news for democracy in Armenia

Armenia’s first president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan will head the list of opposition Armenian National Congress candidates in Yerevan municipal election (= Yerevan mayor election). No. 2 in the list is Stepan Demirchyan. (I do not know if Ter-Petrosyan would step down after winning the election, to make Demirchyan a mayor, but this is not important right now) They will now continue formal consultations with the parliamentary opposition Heritage party for joint participation in election. I do hope that cool heads in the opposition (parliamentary + extra-parliamentary) will prevail to contest the election united.

“This is almost like presidential election, it’s a political election, and winning Yerevan municipal election will amount to regime change and restoration of constitutional order in Armenia” – this would be the main message by opposition directed at electorate. Not quite the regime change, but they have a point.

No one should underestimate the importance of capital Yerevan, where almost half of Armenian population lives. Having elected by free and fair election, Yerevan mayor would become a significant political figure in Armenia to rival president.

This decision puts the spotlight towards Yerevan mayoral election to the highest possible level and importance. This would encourage Yerevan residents to take it seriously and participate in election.

If won by the opposition, this would give us hope that future parliamentary and presidential elections would be freer and fairer, at least in Yerevan, and hopefully in the country as a whole.

I cannot imagine ruling party candidate Gagik Beglaryan (nicknamed Chorni (Black) Gago) winning this election vs Ter-Petrosyan, unless election is falsified. Not only Armenians’, but also the attention of international community would be on Yerevan, and hopefully with Ter-Petrosyan contesting the election, it would be harder, much harder to falsify it again.

This would be THE test for the authorities, and the most practical chance for them to assure Armenian citizens that they want to heal the wounds of 1 March and move forward (along with the release of political prisoners, of course). This would give a chance for real dialogue between opposition and the authorities to take place in Armenia. This could be a good news for democracy in Armenia.


Ani said...

And just think, thanks to that "special electoral provision," they'll only need to get 40% of the votes...

artmika said...

Who would have thought that this could backfire, eh? :)

Ani said...

Well, it is the Ides of March, after all...

Aramazd said...

agree 100%!

this was a wise and never-expected move from Levon (why? because no one could imagine him, who allegedly was an arrogant figure, putting his candidacy for a mayor's office!).

all in all, your analysis is right, especially taking into account that both the society and the regime's resources now are not the same as in Jan-Feb'2008.

Well done, Levon!

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, like I said many times in the past, this is a very crucial election AS LONG AS residents of Yerevan understand that.

Ironically, both Ter-Petrossian and Kocharian resisted allowing the election of a Mayor precisely because of the significance of the position.

True, not a presidential election, bit closer that you might imagine. Anyway, despite being attacked by some Levon supporters for even daring to say this was an election people should take note of, it's becoming obvious that it is.

Concerns emerging over May municipal election

Indeed, I still consider that the scheduling of the next opposition rally for 1 May is not coincidental. On the other hand, I'm not sure the residents of Yerevan are clued up enough about the vote, or even how the election works.

Some organizations are starting to mobilize in order to raise public awareness, but there's even less time before the vote than when organizations mobilized for the presidential election.

I also don't think ANC can gather more than 50 percent of the vote in Yerevan. Then again, I sure as hell don't believe Chorni Gago can either, and thanks to that lovely provision in the law, they might not need to anyway.

Ultimately, whoever can really show themselves to take this matter seriously can gain support. And yes, the election could be falsified but a) if the atmosphere is intense enough, the international community will not tolerate it, and b) well, you know what the situation might turn into especially as the economy takes a dive.

Basically, take this election very seriously indeed...

artmika said...

Speaking to Radio Liberty, opposition ANC representative Levon Zurabyan assured that, if elected, Ter-Petrosyan will indeed work as Yerevan mayor. (This was in response to a journalist question re possibilities of handing over mayoral position to No.2 Demirchyan, I mentioned about that in my post too)

He went further comparing Yerevan municipal elections with the “2nd round of presidential elections”.

First reactions today from various sides proved that everyone is taking the matter very seriously, indeed.

artmika said...

“Heritage” not surprised at the decision of the Armenian National Congress (Public Radio of Armenia)

"Members of the “Heritage” faction were not startled by the fact that the Armenian National Congress nominated Levon Ter-Petrosyan for the Mayor of Yerevan.

Raffi Hovhannisyan, said however, that he learnt about the decision of the Armenian National Congress last evening from the press and Internet.

In general, the issue of nominations for the Mayor of Yerevan was the most popular topic of discussion in the corridors of the National Assembly today.

Head of the Republican faction Galust Sahakyan told “Radiolur” that irrespective of the decision of the Armenian National Congress, the coalition forces will not change their mind and will run separately."

Ani said...

If this is the talk of Yerevan, then that sounds like really good voter outreach and education!

Raffi learned about this over the Internet? Maybe you have a secret fan... ;)

artmika said...

Ani, now that you've said it, not so secret anymore ;)

artmika said...

First indications from parliamentary opposition Heritage party meeting tonight suggest that Armenian National Congress (ANC) and Heritage failed to agree to form a united entry for Yerevan municipal (mayoral) election.

I blame both sides for that. It is ridiculous that leading figure of Heritage party was informed about the decision by ANC via press and Internet (see my comment above). However, it is indicative of the level of mistrust between these two sides. They both need each other. ANC needs Heritage to attract wider electorate, and for ‘cleaner’ image. Heritage needs ANC for their organisational potential and experience. Etc.etc…

No one is naïve enough to doubt that in a long term Heritage and ANC, and parties within the ANC, will go their separate ways. However, in the current political climate when the very essence of free elections in Armenia is under the big question, united forces of opposition parties are essential for restoration of democracy in Armenia. They may then go along with their separate ways as it should be.

This could only be good news for Armenian authorities, and for ruling party candidate Gagik Beglaryan.

Separate participation in Yerevan election does not mean that the opposition will fail but it will reduce chances for success, which would otherwise be pretty high.

While this would hurt both sides, Heritage will probably have more to lose. There will be many accusations in betrayal, comparisons with Orinats Yerkir pseudo-opposition party. I can clearly hear all sorts of conspiracy theories which ordinary people will use to blame Heritage (as a parliamentary party, it is the only opposition party that has contacts with the authorities). Overall, this could hurt their image badly. Image which has already been shaken by increased nationalist rhetoric among some most respectful of its leading members.

Ani said...

Let’s hope this is an Armenian bazaar, and there’s still negotiating room. If not, though, some thoughts:

Of the six basic questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how), events have lined up in this election for a possibly favorable outcome not only for the opposition parties, but for the good of the country. Only that nasty, persistent, temptation-ridden question “who” sticks in the throat. It’s the hardest thing to give up, but true patriots and heroes do so when their country asks them to. And as you said, Mika, working together on this election is not a permanent sinking of the ship “Heritage.” Additionally, is it really that important to have a separate list of purely theoretical candidates who can’t ever be elected, or a partial list of the best, most qualified candidates who, together with selected names from other parties in the loose coalition called the Armenian National Congress, could actually get elected and change life in Armenia for the better?

As the son of a historian, Raffi should reflect not only on “who” he is now, but “who” he will be viewed as having been when the history books are written. Does he really want to be called the Armenian Ralph Nader, whose contribution to the 2000 election of George W. Bush so darkened the world? Because that’s what it’s looking like right now. Rethink and compromise, before this chance passes you by—you may not get a better one than this.

Anonymous said...

///Rethink and compromise/// :)

Compromise should be two sided. The problem with LTP is that he is not going to any compromises with even his fellows, friends, allies. LTP is very different from Raffi, Raffi is the only democrat leader within his party. btw in comparison with other parties LTP has the most authoritarian party structure.

In short, this is a clash of culture, Zharangutyun and ANC /read HHSH/ have very different political culture.

armen said...

It would be the right and moral thing to do, if Heritage has indeed decided not to endorse a self-righteous, reckless and corrupt person by name of Levon. Why are some Armenians so peasant like and primitive in their thinking that Levon is their one and only savior from this regime. The fact of the matter is that there are much better alternatives out there and Heritage is one important piece of that which should not sully itself by becoming a Levon puppet party.

artmika said...

Apparently, the main reason of failing to agree on united list of candidates was – surprise-surprise – unsatisfied ambitions for the first three places in the list .

While Ter-Petrosyan led ANC proposed 1. Levon ter-Petrosyan, 2. Stepan Demirchyan (ANC), and 3. Heritage representative; Heritage party suggested instead 1. Armen Martirosyan (Heritage), 2. Levon Ter-Petrosyan, 3. Heritage representative.

With all due respect to Armen Martirosyan, (sadly) I can’t see him yet ready to be No. 1. against people like Gagik Beglaryan & co.

I wish they would agree on 1. Levon Ter-Petrosyan, 2. Armen Martirosyan option. This could have been the most practical and right choice taking into account circumstances and winning potential.

Ani said...

Yes, of course, compromise is two ways. Besides the three top spots, apparently (fluid situation so maybe it changed?) Heritage wanted to split the candidates list 50-50, putting Heritage on an equal footing with the 18 parties that comprise the ANC, which in essence would reduce the perception of the ANC to a single political party, pretty obviously unacceptable to the ANC membership.

I'll offer my unasked-for quixotic compromise (not that they're listening!)--give 25% to 33% of the list to Heritage, which is generous but shows that one party is not equivalent to many. And make the candidates the strongest ones.

Haik said...

ANC is not a political party. It is a confederation of parties, organizations and individuals. ANC probably has more individual members than the "Jarangutyun" Party. So what "Jarangutyun" proposed was pretty much unfair to ANC. I think a third place was pretty much a good compromise. If "Jarangutyun" were an ANC member probably they would get the 2nd place.

Anonymous said...

ANC is not a free and democratic association. All decisions are made by LTP. All others are hostages of LTP decision. This is the biggest problem of the 'movement'. They shut-up pluralistic thinking and values.

And this is irony

Many are happy that LTP plays smart and makes surprising moves which none could foresee. But from another side, all this surprise moves are not democratic and it's taboo to argue with them.

What LTP is doing is not new. Here is a quote for his doings
"You wish to multiply yourself tenfold, a hundredfold? You seek followers? Seek zeros! Friedrich Nietzsche"

Anonymous said...

Are you sure it is only 18 parties in the ANC? I thought the ANC was the birthchild of LTP's contribution to Armenian politics, that is an annihilation of the concept of a party. In LTP-speak:

One man = one party

And as sad as these HHSh retreads are, I am sure there are a few more than 18 followers of the populist/fraud LTP today.

nazarian said...

I wonder what Jarangutyun's hopes are by going separately. They probably know that they will be given a spot or two for their services (albeit not an intentional service) to the banditocracy. By being with HAK they are guaranteed to be the target of abuse and assaults. This way, they are the spoiler and get to get a few spots under the sun as allowed by the regime.

Anonymous said...

please nazarian, stop spoiling the interpretation :)

It is obvious that Yerevan consists mainly of Black Gago and LTP haters who will be happy to vote for ANY humble person. And this formula may bring Zharangutyun a hope to really yield more votes than any other ANC lists could bring.

It is simply in Hanrapetakan's and LTP habit to play zero sum.

Zharangutyun have no problem with votes unless unethical and illegal political games are played. And you started it /services to banditocracy/ and LTP might do the same /"Zharangutyuny miatsav takanqin" or something else in his style/.

Is it difficult to accept that others have a right to think and act differently?

During Arabkir taghapet elections ANC gave almost zero support to Zharangutyun explaining that " mer payqarn urish e, menq qandum enq rezhimy u manr-munr hartserov chenq zbaghvum" well, my advise to ANC "Մի եղիր ուրաքի պես, միշտ դեպի քեզ, միշտ դեպի քեզ ... գոնե 1 անգամ աջակցիր ժառանգությանը, ինչպես վերջինս արդեն տարիուկես աջակցում է ձեզ"

Haik said...

During Arabkir local elections ANC supported Jarangutyun candidate against Yeritsyan.
The Jarangutyun of course has the right to make its own decision and it is welcomed but there is a big BUT and that is, if we had democracy in Armenia. The reality is that the regime will use Jarangutyun to split and fake the votes further and in that way grant the majority of the votes to their candidates list. The mechanism that the regime is going to use is clear, very clear if Jarangutyun doesnt join ANC or doesnt participate in elections but endorses ANC. I dont want to reveal the possible scenario yet but I have my ideas that what will happen in this situation.

Haik said...

Actually I decided to write the possible scenario in this situation which if you are interested you can read at :

Anonymous said...

Haik, I am not interested in reading any blog nameq "payqr". This blog is very democratic, so I am here.

You said "The reality is that the regime will use Jarangutyun to split and fake the votes further and in that way grant the majority of the votes to their candidates list."

Can I paraphrase you and say that "ANC will be used to split and fake the votes further ..." Why it is Zharangutyun - a healthier and tolerated party - should support ANC, while ANC - a newcomer /or former HHSH/ but less tolerated one shouldn't support Zharangutyun.

My answer is simple LTP knows that he has not supporters and receives votes mainly from regime haters. That's why hijacking opposition is in the interest of LTP. We had such monopolists, Artashes Geghamyan, Orinats Yerkir ... They were saying about their high popularity, is this popularity true or fake?

At this moment there are many Ralphs [from the lord of the flies], but LTP is the Jack. Hope Armenia will not turn into the island story and Jack will stay far from leadership ...

artmika said...

Various Armenian news agencies and sources report that discussions between the Heritage party and the ANC are ongoing, and the possibility of the united list is still alive. Things will become clearer by Friday, I guess. (here are some links - 1, 2, 3)

Armenian Bismarck Churchill said...

To be honest I dont understand people who ask why Ter-Petrosian will be the candidate of Opposition!
It`s Crazy,dont you know the question?why you ask the same question 2 years already
1.President Ter-Petrosian and Armenian National Congress are the hegemonic power of the political life of Armenia.Ter-Petrosian rules all the internal policy of Armenia since 21st September 2007 and it`s too easy to understand this simple question.
2.Armenian National COngress is an alliance of 18 opposition parties ,it has a very strong and very effective orgnisational structure which no political party in Armenia has!
3.During the presidential ellections 2008 Ter-Petrosian already showed that only he can gather andconsolidate the majority of population and political orgnisations while Raffi Hovhanisian got only 800 votes in Talin? If Raffi lost the ellections in Talin in 2007 taking only 800( Eight hundred) votes how do you think he can be the leader of opposition?
Who of us has seen Raffi In Myasnikyan square on 1st march 2008? Has seen Raffi after this during 2008 in Matenadaran?Where is he when the most serious problems of Armenia are facing the people?
What kind of moral right Raffi has to be the leader of opposition please all of you who so loudly criticise poresident Ter-Petrosian answer this simple question!
THe only person who can bring democracy and prosperity by ridding the bandidocratic rejim of serj kocharian is only the founder of the state Levon Ter-Petrosian the others are klients of serjik or people who justify the killing of peacefull demonstrants,27th october etc,etc,

Armenian Bismarck Churchill said...

Lets hope Raffi will understand that the best choice is unity ,if not he will lose his party till 31st may and it will become his political suicide as a costumer of serjik!

Haik said...

No you cant paraphrase it because you change the meaning of what I said. It is obvious that your only interest in my words is in twisting them in the way that meets your liking.
As for it is still one of the few places where the comments are not moderated.

artmika said...

Heritage will not participate in Yerevan municipal election

spm said...

Probably this discussion is already dead and I am late. Anyway.... I don't like the idea of LTP being the mayor of Yerevan. I was reluctant to see him participate in presidential elections for three reasons:
1. He really did a lot of wrong things during his first 2 terms.
2. I do not like that in Armenia and generally in post Soviet states, the politics are confined to personalities, rather than programs or parties. Even if it is all personality, we need new faces.
3. Symbolically, but nevertheless significantly I d like to have LTP go into history as the 1st President, founder of Armenian Republic.

Now the mayor. All my arguments are still in place but 10 times stronger. And if elected he will be terrible mayor, because this post requires not only politician, but also someone to collect garbage from the city. Armenia needs serious opposition and that opposition should not be confined to just 3 faces. Serjik and banditocracy still may be able to rig this election too and get whomever they want to fill the position. What is next for LTP? mayor of Hamzachiman?