Here we are. It's Christmas Day in West, and now officially end of an era in Armenian politics, as ex-president and leader of (what remains of) opposition HAK group Levon Ter-Petrosyan formally withdrew his candidacy from upcoming presidential election citing age (68). Not surprising, considering the circumstances. Considering the fact that over the last 5 years he failed in building up a viable opposition force. He failed in contributing to the rise of new leaders ready and able to challenge the status quo on a national level.
That flirting - unashamedly - with oligarch-led party and the oligarch himself illustrated the impotency of those on the scene and inability to lead.
Ironically, Gagik Tsarukyan (oligarch head of the BHK [‘Prosperous Armenia’] party) became ‘the only hope’ for the opposition. It was painful to see how political figures downgraded to become oligarch-pleasers.
Here is hoping this ‘end of an era’ will stimulate the rise of new political leaders to match an increasing importance and influence of civic activists in Armenia.
As for the February presidential election, the only candidate that I will support is the leader of Heritage party, Armenia ex-FM Raffi Hovhannisyan. Although I disagree with Raffi on number of internal and foreign issues, and criticised his populism in past, currently he is my favourite Armenian politician (compared to others in public view). I also respect immensely his post-DIY stance, when he came out in support, even though it was obvious this would not be in line with the majority of average voters and in defiance with the prevalent anti-gay hysteria. I will never forget his stance.
But there should be no doubt that Serj is the winner. I can safely say Armenia is heading to the most predictable presidential election. This time, he won't need any violations, any fraud. This could be a textbook example of 'free and fair elections' in Armenia. It will be 'picture perfect'.
‘Free and fair’ only from a technical point of view but never by essence.