ARF: We Can Achieve Regime Change Gradually, Starting with Municipal Elections

YEREVAN (A.W.)—Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Supreme Council representative Armen Rustamyan laid out his party’s vision for the post-election popular movement in Armenia this week when he stressed the importance of securing a victory in the May 5 Yerevan municipal elections, calling it a stepping stone towards achieving regime change.

Rustamyan: We should not get disheartened if we cannot achieve regime change right away. We can attain that goal gradually. (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian, The Armenian Weekly)

Rustamyan: We should not get disheartened if we cannot achieve regime change right away. We can attain that goal gradually. (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian, The Armenian Weekly)

Speaking at a rally on Freedom Square on March 5, Rustamyan said the authorities would not willingly compromise, let alone concede power. “Only a popular movement that transforms into a powerful political factor can force them to do that,” he said.

According to Rustamyan, the ultimate objective of the movement is to guarantee that the people assume power on all levels. That objective can best be attained through persistent struggle, by securing a series of victories. We should not get disheartened if we cannot achieve regime change right away, he said. We can attain that goal gradually. But every single person in the movement will have to work towards that goal.

Securing a victory during the May 5 municipal elections in Yerevan constitutes the first step, he explained; in a country like Armenia, assuming municipal power in Yerevan would be very significant and would force the authorities to make greater concessions.

6 Comments on ARF: We Can Achieve Regime Change Gradually, Starting with Municipal Elections

  1. It is striking that Mr. Rustamian acknowledges that there is now a popular movement in Armenia, though his party stayed away during the elections. But, anyway he is right that change should be gradual. We cannot afford to have surgical change in Armenia as that can get out of control and make the things worse.
    Despite all the post-election mayhem, I find it a good sign that the leading opposition forces in Armenia join hands in the struggle for change. Change in Armenia is not the work of one man or political party, but something that should be brought up by concerted action and people’s particiapation.

  2. avatar h. aharonian // March 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm // Reply

    While positive and constructive change, whether pre-election or post-election, has been/is necessary in Armenia, there appear to be no plans for better government, no plans for creating gainful employment for the people, and no plans to help return the dignity the Armenian people deserve.
    The way the current movement is being orchestrated could only create more havoc.
    Change for the better is a must.
    However, change for the sake of change is not the answer.

  3. Change is must we all agree on that, also must be in a civilized way, specially having in mind that we are sandwiched by enemy countries from East and West, also keeping in mind that we can’t afford to be like Syria, Libya, and list goes on and on, orange, Blue, type revolutions, so I agree with ARF representative, to take a step at a time toward a specific goal, by involving the population, with a harmony and understanding the movement, without getting harmed from it.

  4. The strategy of “gradual change” in Armenia has been in play for 20 years now. The result has been rampant governmental corruption, nepotism, a weak civil society, high emigration rates and an indifferent, fatalistic public.

    This movement is the next evolutionary step in the shaping of a true democracy and it must be allowed to run its course. Hovannisian is planning his steps in a by-the-book fashion, and he’s taking the right approach. Currently he’s waiting for the ruling from the Constitutional Court, which will hear his case on March 11, before he announces his next move.

    Recent history has proven that fair elections in Armenia cannot he held so long as the ruling Republican party remains in control. Supporters of the movement know this all too well, and so does the ARF. Anticipating that the municipal elections will this time be free and fair is wishful thinking.

    Rustamyan’s guarded comments were not words of reason and wisdom, they were signs of insecurity. The ARF needs to be stronger than that.

  5. avatar gaytzag palandjian // March 7, 2013 at 11:17 am // Reply

    Above commenets are all well expressed and logical.No doubt we all have reason.My position ,standpoint is that there should be (have been) planned and executed cooperation amongst those important political forces in RA.
    ARF -my viewpoint- is still the important one-internationally also well connected one that could and CAM act, if it also decides to go MORE PUBLIC,so to say..
    I ¨suggested¨ (I never advise) that they adopt some <PRINCIPAL CHANGES:-such as :-
    1. Go back to the original ¨Armenian (R)evolutionar-ies) Federation.
    2.Modify it to read (and act) as ¨Armenian Evolutionaries Federation¨
    3.Officially invite the other political to , thus join up in the Efforts to Evolve the status quo of Armenia.Those to join could be the Hunchagian(Social Democrat) political party, Ramgavar (the main ones ,also with connections overseas).The other relatively new so, such as the ¨Prosperous¨ and other small ones with tendency towards the Republican to be left aside(would not join anyhow). Then only can the AEF act with more clout.
    Raffi Hovhanissian´s Zharangutyun(Heritage) party by itself does not impose much …in fact most voters joined with him ,as ARF and the other 2 traditional parties were not on the scene, nor did they present Candidates.
    One other factor would be to have personalities,as well join up.
    I am near certain these would join up if they SAW CHANGE OF ATTITUDE in the present ARF-as above suggested….
    Now then a NEW Armenian Evolutionaries Federation could at least be considered as a REAL OPPOSITION,rather than those on the scene now!!!!and with more chances to win next elections.This might even be called for ONCE SAID F E D E R A T I O N is brought to the scene.

  6. Change through municipalities and regional governments could be one way for Armenia to become democratic, provided that the opposition is consistent about it and keeps pushing. I have always emphasized the benefits of learning from the experience of developed democracies. This was the way it was done in the United States prior to the American revolution–over decades, the progressive colonists kept pushing for democratic changes at the local level, and the “oligarchs,” the colonial elite, reluctantly gave in. As a result, even before 1776, America was the most democratic place on earth.

    However, we don’t several decades to become democratic, as we are in a deadly competition with Azerbaijan. It’s their oil against our human resources, and lack of democracy is draining those resources. The opposition needs to understand it and give that clear message both to the government and to the people. Peaceful revolution would be great, but if that does not work, local mini-revolutions are another way. But again, they need to keep the time factor in mind.

    And, as I have noted before, the efforts of the ARF and other organizations in Armenia will be given a great boost if the ARF and others groups in the Diaspora give them their moral support by publicly stating their support for change. And our Diasporan organizations will do that if we, ordinary Diasporans, push them, by contacting and reminding them of their moral duty.

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