Of course, it is very difficult for them [= the other candidates] because members of the Republican Party today are leaders in more than 70 percent of local government bodies across Armenia. And no matter how much they say that this is due to the use of government resources, I can never agree with that. People there waged political struggle and got into leadership positions. And why shouldn’t they use their leadership — I mean their prestige — for their political party or for ensuring the victory of their party’s leader? ― Serzh Sargsyan (source: RFERL)
The problem with the Armenian Presidential Elections is not that Prosperous Armenia and ANC don’t participate. The problem is also not so much that there are no “alternatives”. Let’s take for instance Raffi Hovhannisian, Paruyr Hayrikyan or Hrant Bagratyan ― for me they are far from being the ideal presidential candidate. But aren’t they good enough to be alternatives to Serzh Sargsyan? Sargsyan isn’t the ideal president for Armenia either, is he? Proof? Here is one: all the other candidates have more likes on Facebook than the running president. He isn’t very popular indeed and yet few doubt that he is going to be reelected on 18 February.
So what is the problem then? The problem is, I think, our democratic system. I would prefer to call it an undemocratic democracy. That is to say, a democracy which allows candidates and parties being (re)elected even if few people like them, and which on the other hand makes it very difficult or almost impossible for people to change their Government.
And the problem, indeed, starts from municipal elections. The ruling party has much power and its candidates win in the municipal elections. Non-partisan or opposition candidates are mostly unable to compete. Then in the parliamentary and presidential elections mayors and aldermen of municipalities use their influence to assure victory for their party/sponsors.
It’s all that simple.
Many people were disappointed when Prosperous Armenia declared not to run for the presidential elections. I saw some tweeps writing on Twitter: this is going to be the most boring elections in Armenian history. Why were they disappointed? Because they hoped that if an “oligarch” would run for the elections or if he supported one of the candidates, maybe something could be changed. A little bit like the last elections in Georga.
But this isn’t the way I want to make a change in my country. I want a democratic system where it is very easy to change your Government or the ruling party. But where it is extremely difficult to win the elections if most people in your country don’t like you.
And for this end, we need much more than a “fair” voting process. We need to change our Undemocratic Democracy. Our democratic system must assure that no one ― members of local or national authorities, teachers, “oligarchs” ― absolutely nothing will influence municipal, parliamentary or presidential elections.
As long as that doesn’t happen this democracy causes more trouble than anything good.