Constitutional Amendments Approved in Armenia’s Referendum

Election Observers Share Preliminary Assessments

YEREVAN (A.W.)—Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) announced today that 825,622 citizens, around 63.4 percent of eligible voters, voted in favor of the new constitution, amid several reports of violations and irregularities. A total of 1,296,368 people, or around 50.51 percent of eligible voters, participated in the referendum according to figures released by the CEC.

Results of the Dec. 6 referendum (Source: CEC)
Results of the Dec. 6 referendum (Source: CEC)

The reforms called for a shift from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary form of government, and will introduce a governmental system in which the powers of the president are drastically reduced, and are almost only ceremonial. Armenia’s president will be elected for a seven-year term (currently a five-year term) by parliament, not a national vote, and can only serve one term.

Armen Rustamyan, member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau and head of the party’s political affairs, told reporters on Dec. 7 that the country now had a new Constitution, adding that the “no” votes were in essence a rejection of the ruling government, whereas the “yes” votes were cast in favor of the constitutional changes.

“Of course, there is the need for serious examination of the outcomes of the referendum. The substantial number of ‘no’ votes is cause for reflection, and it is consistent with the concerns we had during the campaign. It is our deep belief that the ‘no’ votes are an expression of dissatisfaction with the authorities—the ‘no’ [votes] are directed at the government’s policies; meanwhile, the ‘yes’ votes are directed at the constitutional changes,” he was quoted as saying by Yerkir.am.

Rustamyan speaking to reporters on Dec. 7 (Photo: Civilnet)
Rustamyan speaking to reporters on Dec. 7 (Photo: Civilnet)

Rustamyan said ARF representatives followed proper procedures during the referendum and did their best to prevent violations. He added that since the violations have not been investigated and confirmed, they are one sided; and that those who are speaking about widespread violations were insisting and expecting that the referendum would pass in a fraudulent manner. “We are well aware of what kind of an electoral system we have. The referendum, which was held on Dec. 6, was held in the old electoral system, which has many faults. Those electoral flaws will continue to occur unless we change the old system. We are convinced that these constitutional amendments will create the best foundation for an electoral system that is in line with the standards that will allow for credible elections and referendums. Distrust of [yesterday’s] results stems from mistrust in the electoral system that has accumulated over the years,” he said.

The ARF has been a strong proponent of the constitutional reforms. The party has advocated for a transition to a parliamentary system of government in Armenia since independence. Speaking to reporters after casting his ballot on Dec. 6, ARF Bureau representative Hrant Markarian said that Armenia has the opportunity to form a new political framework with the possibility of real competition. “I’m confident that this is a new beginning for Armenia today,” he said.

Under the new system, Armenia would work with a 101-seat parliament with a 5-year term elected entirely by proportional representation. Under the current system of government, there are 131 members of parliament, with 41 elected in first-past-the-post constituencies and the rest by proportional representation.

 

Election Observers Share Preliminary Assessments

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) observation mission found the voting in the referendum open and transparent. “The mission considers that the referendum provided the citizens with an opportunity to express their will,” Yevgeny Sloboda, the head of the CIS observation mission, told reporters on Monday. He said that the observers noticed no violations either before or during the voting. “The CIS observers visited 508 polling stations on voting day in all provinces except Syunik. They participated in the opening of the polls, the voting process, and the vote counting. Our observers registered an open and free voting,” he said.

On the other hand, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) observation delegation criticized the referendum, saying that it was driven by the political interests of the ruling regime. “The relatively low turn-out, around 50 percent of the population, reflects the fact that the referendum was driven by political interests instead of the needs of the Armenian public and was perceived by many citizens as a vote of confidence in the government rather than on the many proposals for change,” read a part of the statement released by PACE.

Citizen Observer Initiative and the European Platform for Democratic Elections found an unprecedented number of violations on the December 6 Constitutional Reform (Photo: epde.org)
Citizen Observer Initiative and the European Platform for Democratic Elections found an unprecedented number of violations on Dec. 6. (Photo: epde.org)

The PACE delegation also criticized the voting process, noting inaccuracies of voting lists; allegations of large-scale vote buying, carousel voting, and pressure on voters; an uneven media playing field; the misuse of administrative resources by executive bodies; and shortcomings in the training of precinct election officials. They also urged authorities to address the issues they outlined “in order to build trust in the voting process and in politics in general to ensure a genuinely democratic future for Armenia.”

Citizen Observer Initiative (COI) and the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), in a joint statement, said they found an unprecedented number of violations on the Dec. 6 referendum. “The referendum campaign was marred by massive misuse of administrative resources to campaign in favor of the constitutional changes and influencing the voting and tabulation process via control of electoral administration on the territorial and local levels. Inaccuracy of voter lists remained the most crucial issue considering the confidentiality of voter participation that leaves room for later manipulations,” read the statement.

The COI and the EPDE also claimed that vote counting was accompanied by several procedural violations. “In several cases, citizen observers and international media representatives were intimidated and hindered in carrying out their monitoring activities. In some polling stations the counting process was interrupted due to obstacles allegedly initiated by PEC members,” the statement read.

 

Opposition Protests

Several hundred members and supporters of the opposition “New Armenia” movements, as well as supporters of other opposition groups that campaigned against constitutional changes, marched towards the CEC building in Yerevan shortly after the closure of ballots, late Sunday night. Demonstrators protested what they called a referendum that had been falsified by the authorities and were met with a heavy police presence. They also called for the annulment of the results of the referendum.

Opposition supporters rally against the results of the constitutional referendum in Yerevan on Dec. 7 (Photo: Photolur)
Opposition supporters rally against the results of the constitutional referendum in Yerevan on Dec. 7 (Photo: Photolur)

Hundreds of protesters gathered again in central Yerevan the following day, to demonstrate against the declared results of a referendum. During Monday’s gathering, Armenian National Congress (ANC) coordinator Levon Zurabian said the government had secured the results through ballot-box stuffing, multiple voting, and vote buying, reported RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Azatutyun.am. Zurabian also rejected the turnout figures, saying that less than half of eligible voters participated.

 

66 Comments

  1. The BBC, among many others (see link below), just reported on the flawed “election”. This was not an election at all. Fraud was everywhere and is all over social media. We have direct evidence and so so many eye witnesses. I even saw and videoed a delegation from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) observers (mentioned in this article). They came, saw chaos, and went within five minutes – all with smiles on their faces. This was all a joke. All the while, citizen observers were fighting for every vote that the regime heads were easily tossing when any chance arose. But why doesn’t the diaspora press report more about it?? ESPECIALLY when the people here in Armenia are crying for international recognition of all this fraud???

    Serzhik Sargsyan, you must go to hell for manipulating the votes and voices of our precious Armenian citizens. The CURRENT constitution has great laws which you violate constantly. How can your dirty criminal hands be trusted to create a fair new constitution? The people voted “NO” to your evil plan, but your thirst for a deeper stronger dictatorship/kleptocracy with you as perpetual commander-in-thief for life, rules your actions as always. As you push the people to the cliff’s edge daily, you isolate yourself from Armenians worldwide. Now, you can’t show your face in Armenia or the diaspora without hateful protests. Soon you will be isolated – in solitary confinement – in prison. Get ready.

    Check out this page to become educated: http://www.facebook.com/groups/StopCorruptionInArmenia

    OR just Google: http://www.google.am/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=armenia+referendum+2015

    • Please convey my condolences to your mentor Mr. Ara Manoogian on the the joyous occasion of another smashing victory for President Sargsian.

      And the BarevaLoser tearing up the ballot once again confirmed that he is a a perennial loser in more ways than one.

      A great day for Armenia.

    • Opposition groups and people like you are a national security threat for Armenia and it is you who should “go to hell”. If it wasn’t for the current government and president, regardless corrupt or not, Armenia would have been destroyed by the US by now in its effort to destabilize the country.

      Instead of hanging around with your buddy Ara distributing flyers, go educate yourself about the dangerous times we live in. I’d rather have a corrupt Armenia than no Armenia.

      It is a miracle that after Armenia’s independence it survived and thrived despite numerous obstacles, including brainwashed and delusional fools who think they are doing Armenia good but helping outside forces destroy it.

    • Jack,

      The corruption is a security issue for Armenia. Armenia is not like Russia which can continue to exist because of sheer size, natural resources and population. Armenia is tiny, landlocked and its population is not growing. Armenia needs to be as efficient and productive as possible. Corruption hinders economic growth and in turn taxes needed to pay for an effective military.

      Sargsisian must work to lessen corruption in Armenia but everyone knows he isn’t. And that is a major issue.

  2. This was a vote to prolong Serge Sargsyan’s grip on power. As in past elections the people of Armenia were once again unable to exercise the power to change their own government. It’s an unfortunate reality that Armenian citizens have never been able to change government or say “no” to anything the government proposes through referendums. There is no democracy in Armenia it is disgraceful to support the fraudulent referendum and the haphazardly organized constitutional “reform” process leading to it…

  3. This is one demonstration of sheer imperfection of democracy in cases when an election or a plebiscite is held. Only because the majority of eligible voters, just 50.8 percent according to the official version, came to the polls, the other roughly half of the voters, who either boycotted the referendum or were apathetic to any undertaking by the government, will be downtrodden because in the wonder world called “democracy”, slightly over half of the voters can decide for another roughly half how the latter should live.

    • It’s not democracy’s fault half your country didn’t show up to vote because of boycotts or laziness. If you have a better model for government please do share.

    • A republican form of government, for instance, where government officials exercise power according to the rule of law, not the fabled “rule by the majority”. During the previous elections—parliamentary or presidential—voter turnout was greater, yet the results were repeatedly the same. No change has thus produced a widespread apathy, not necessarily laziness, among the voters.

      I see the adopted amendment for a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary form of government as a step forward for Armenia, except that the head of the parliament will most likely be the same person now holding the presidential position, even if his powers will be drastically reduced (so we are told). What saddens me is that this referendum—essentially, not technically—had no clear majority of eligible voters. If we add to the percentage of those who boycotted or showed apathy (49.2 percent) the percentage of those who came to the polls but voted “No” (33.8 percent), we’ll have the total of 83 percent of the total number of eligible voters, who, in one way or another, showed their civil discontent. This is not at all convincing for the protagonists of the lotusland called “democracy”…

    • Actually, Avery, it’s sometimes attributed to Ben Franklin, who is believed to have said: “A democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.” If Franklin indeed said that, then it wasn’t a joke for sure, because he and many other founding fathers feared democracy. In short, I think for such serious things as constitutional changes, not a simple majority but two-thirds must have been required. Still, again, I think the step towards a parliamentary and then, hopefully, a prime-ministerial form of government was a step in the right direction. It is the mode it was taken that’s embarrassing…

    • The Achilles heel of democracy is the people themselves. Democracy is meant to be driven by the people themselves.

      Maybe the voting percentage was low because the population did not see a reason to change the constitution. This was all driven to allow Sarkissian to continue to be in power.

      Another reason might be because you only need one major election to stay in power. Otherwise, it was possible to win the majority of the seats but loose the presidency. This way, you get the seats and the new prime minister-ship in one swoop. At least based on the way I understand the new constitution.

    • John:

      I agree with your point about parliamentary systems. They are on average much more democratic, though not without problem. Unreasonably high thresholds like in Turkey can also lead to scenarios like a party winning 1/3 of the vote but getting 2/3 of the seats- AKP in 2002. It can obviously also lead to instability and rapid government turnover but I guess a weak and democratic government is better than the quasi-authoritariasm that presidential systems can yield.

      I hope Armenia, and the US (though that’ll never happen) will switch to a parliamentary system. However, as someone with very limited understanding of Armenian politics, it seems that Armenians have become disillusioned with the political process in the post-Soviet era. It’s hard to believe you have the power to change a system that has seemingly always been against the average person. But 50% of eligible voters not voting is not the way to send a message.

    • No. The Achilles heel of democracy is the group of plutocrats who come to control—and manipulate with—the workings of this form of government. This happened during the Athenian democracy. This is happening in our times in the American democracy. Democracy cannot be driven by the people themselves under circumstances where the people are given the choice of two major political parties that are, essentially, not different from one another and two candidates both of whom oftentimes are members of secret societies (e.g. George W. Bush vs John Kerry in 2004 – both members of “Skull and Bones”).

    • {But 50% of eligible voters not voting is not the way to send a message.}

      To me, it is a better way to send a message to the authorities (if they at all care, of course), than to see masses of hungry and disgruntled people pouring into the streets in a blaze of revolutionary anger. If you have a better way to show civil discontent, please do share.

      {[…] weak and democratic government is better than the quasi-authoritarianism that presidential systems can yield.}

      In the case of Armenia, perhaps… But we cannot make a generalization, or a speculation even, that weak and democratic government is better than any other form of government. ‘Better’ in what sense, working for the common good? Well, there were other forms of government working for the common good not least effectively than democracies. Monarchies, fascist states, and people’s republics immediately come to mind. In China, they have one ruling political party, an explicitly undemocratic criterion, yet the country is doing very well.

    • “plutocrats who come to control”

      This is true of any governing system. Look at China. Or communism, or Azerbaijan.

      The positive side of a representative democracy, where those in office leave peacefully if voted out (ie the rules are followed the vast majority of the time), voters have control and influence over the government. But that requires the population to be active and not become apathetic and not vote.

      Every other form of government I can think of is worse.

      There will always be a group of people who will try to get into power and have control. That’s there in any nation, at any point in time in human history and will continue to be so. But which system of government tempers and controls this the most?

    • “If you have a better way to show civil discontent, please do share.”

      Vote no, which would go against what the government wanted or actually protest. Not sure anyone in the government was troubled at low voter turnout, they got what they wanted. Revolutionary anger can lead to instability, violence against citizens, deepen polarization, increase the presence of the police state, etc., but it can be a positive force as well. So long as it isn’t subverted by foreign interests or by people with ulterior motives, you can have real change. The question becomes whether the risk is worth the reward. Whether a free society is more valuable than a stable government, especially in a hostile region like the one Armenia is in. Based on the boycott which had no impact, as the government got what it wanted, the status quo seems fine to the people in Armenia. You can’t support a mass boycott as a means to show civil discontent and then complain about 50% of the population deciding how the other 50% lives.

    • “the status quo seems fine to the people in Armenia. ”

      Inaction based on apathy and the feeling that one cannot change the system does not necessarily mean being fine with the status quo.

      It’s the younger generation, which did not grow up under the soviet union, will more likely speak up to demand that things improve.

    • Technically, you’re right, RVDV. But your argument indicates that you might not have been following the Armenian politics for the past twenty years or so. There have already been cases during Armenia’s post-independence era when there was greater voter turnout and when bigger percentage of the eligible population voted ‘no’. I don’t want to delve into the official figures vs opposition figures dilemma at this point, but there were times—in 1998 and 2008, for instance, when it appeared than the number of the eligible voters voting ‘no’ was allegedly bigger than the official figures. This effectively disarms your argument in a sense that even with more people coming at the polls and voting ‘no’, no change happened. Revolutionary anger, RoA citizens tried that as well, again, back in 1998 and 2008. No change. Under these conditions, I think that a boycott or a campaign of civil disobedience is a better way for Armenia in her vulnerable geopolitical situation than a revolution or any other sort of violent social upheaval.

    • { Inaction based on apathy and the feeling that one cannot change the system does not necessarily mean being fine with the status quo}

      US Presidential elections turnout
      1972 55.1%
      1976 53.6%
      1980 52.8%
      1984 53.3%
      1988 50.3%
      1992 55.2%
      1996 49.0%
      2000 50.3%
      2004 55.7%
      2008 57.1%
      2012 54.9%

      Armenia Presidential Election 2003:
      Turnout: 67.04%
      Armenia Presidential Election 2008:
      Turnout: 72.14%
      Armenia Presidential Election 2013:
      Turnout: 60.09%

      {THE EDITORIAL BOARD NOV. 11, 2014 The New York Times
      The abysmally low turnout in last week’s midterm elections — the lowest in more than seven decades — was bad for Democrats, but it was even worse for democracy. In 43 states, less than half the eligible population bothered to vote, and no state broke 60 percent.
      In the three largest states — California, Texas and New York — less than a third of the eligible population voted. New York’s turnout was a shameful 28.8 percent, the fourth-lowest in the country, despite three statewide races (including the governor) and 27 House races.
      Over all, the national turnout was 36.3 percent; only the 1942 federal election had a lower participation rate at 33.9 percent. The reasons are apathy, anger and frustration at the relentlessly negative tone of the campaigns.}*

      “Over all, the national turnout was 36.3 percent;”

      Yep, it’s all the fault of RPA and non-President Serj Sargsian for causing widespread “apathy”.
      If only highly popular Heritage Party was in charge, and the real President BarevaLeader was leading, the turnout would easily break 80%, at least.

      —–
      * [The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years]
      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/12/opinion/the-worst-voter-turnout-in-72-years.html?_r=0

    • Random,

      {This [plutocracy] is true of any governing system. Look at China. Or communism, or Azerbaijan.}

      No, it isn’t. In the fascist states or the peoples’ republics, as just two examples, there were no ruling classes of people whose power derived from their wealth. What about China? China cannot fall under the criteria of democracy, because she only has one political party. Communism, what about it? Where in the communist/peoples’ republics have you seen a society governed by the wealthy? And to the Sultanate of Azerbaijan I’m not sure which form of government is applicable at all.

      {The positive side of a representative democracy, where those in office leave peacefully if voted out, and voters have control and influence over the government.}

      We already discussed this issue in other threads and I want to avoid repeating myself. I believe I demonstrated, factually, that it is nearly impossible to vote out a public figure from an executive position, while in great many cases voters cannot control their representatives. Can you control wars waged by the government overseas? How about space exploration? Foreign aid? Can you control these? I could bring dozens of examples when voters have been or are incapable of controlling or influencing over their governments in the western societies.

      {Every other form of government I can think of is worse.}

      A monarchic Arab or an Islamic Persian would say the same about the western-style “democracy”.

      {There will always be a group of people who will try to get into power and have control.}

      Yeah, with the exception that hardly would these groups of people be fanfaring trumpets of being “democracies” and the best model for the rest of the world.

      {But which system of government tempers and controls this the most?}

      I already answered: the Republican system. The one that the Founding Fathers have envisioned for this country.

    • “{But which system of government tempers and controls this the most?}

      I already answered: the Republican system. The one that the Founding Fathers have envisioned for this country.”

      One of the cornerstones of the Republican system is voting and having the will of the people expressed in the government. That’s one of the core ideals of the concept of democracy as most people understand and express when discussing democracy. The Republican or Parliamentary systems are the most common and longest practiced, practical forms of democracy.

      When I and others say democracy, we mean a representative system we see in many Western nations.

      But no matter how well a democratic system of government is set up, it’s only good and fallible as the people. The average wisdom of the voters can fall short and you’ll end up with idiots in the government.

      And we humans are very adept at playing a system to get around the rules.
      And when you’re wealthy, you have more ways to go around a system. So your Republican system of government will still have problems with plutocrats. It would be less of a problem but the wealthy will always be a force to recon with.

      Also something to note, in the first elections in the US, it was not clear in the constitution who exactly could vote. Many states took it upon themselves to decide that and it was usually tied to being a landowner.

      I think you might want to revisit what the founding fathers thought about who could vote. Here’s something John Adams, one of the founding fathers and had to say about who should be eligible to vote. He did not think women should be able to vote.

      http://www.vindicatingthefounders.com/library/adams-to-sullivan.html

      You john may not have had the right to vote if you were not Protestant given the religious and other tests which were applied in the very early years of the Republic.

      But as time passed and with experience with a new form of government, the attitudes on who should be able to vote changed. And eventually women voted.

      Here’s something Franklin said about the whole discussion:

      “Today a man owns a jackass worth 50 dollars and he is entitled to vote; but before the next election the jackass dies. The man in the mean time has become more experienced, his knowledge of the principles of government, and his acquaintance with mankind, are more extensive, and he is therefore better qualified to make a proper selection of rulers—but the jackass is dead and the man cannot vote. Now gentlemen, pray inform me, in whom is the right of suffrage? In the man or in the jackass?”

      There was a diversity of opinions among the founding fathers on who could vote. And who can vote has an impact on the nature of the people in the government. Today, simply being a citizen and age is the minimum requirement on being able to vote. Something broader and more democratic and representative than the founding fathers were discussing or even envisaged.

    • “{This [plutocracy] is true of any governing system. Look at China. Or communism, or Azerbaijan.}

      No, it isn’t. In the fascist states or the peoples’ republics, as just two examples, there were no ruling classes of people whose power derived from their wealth. What about China? China cannot fall under the criteria of democracy, because she only has one political party. Communism, what about it? Where in the communist/peoples’ republics have you seen a society governed by the wealthy? And to the Sultanate of Azerbaijan I’m not sure which form of government is applicable at all.”

      You’re right. In those countries, the pre-existing wealthy did not use their wealth subvert power in the existing government. Those in power came into power and used their position to become wealthy. Those guys ruling in China or any communist government used their position to become wealthy.

      This is also true of US Congress as well. Many have become wealthy through their seats in congress, not before it.

      Azerbaijan I think is a friends and family style government floating on oil. Petrolacracy?

    • “Those guys ruling in China or any communist government used their position to become wealthy. This is also true of US Congress as well. Many have become wealthy through their seats in congress, not before it.”

      I didn’t have the faintest idea of “any” communist (or people’s republic for that matter) government using their position to become wealthy until you stated so. How many moneybags do you know in the communist societies, such as China, the Soviet Union, the Eastern European countries, Cuba and North Korea who came to power and became wealthy? Do you know what possessions Stalin or Mao left after their death? If you don’t, you’ll be surprised to know. And, no, this isn’t at all similar to the US Congress. The oligarchic group of plutocrats who control the functioning of the “democratic” form of government in this country is not made of members of the US Congress, wealthy or not. These are the people representing special interest groups, financial industry and multinational corporations, read: the unelected and unrepresentative individuals.

    • {When I and others say democracy, we mean a representative system we see in many Western nations.”}

      I understand what you and others mean, but it doesn’t change the fact that in the representative system people are only conditioned to believe that they are indeed the decision-making power through their elected representatives, whereas in truth there is always a small circle of ruling plutocrats at the top making the decisions for the entirety and effectively transforming democracy from rule by the majority into oligarchy, i.e. rule by a few, normally wealthy, men.

      {When you’re wealthy, you have more ways to go around a system. So your Republican system of government will still have problems with plutocrats. It would be less of a problem but the wealthy will always be a force to recon with.}

      I’m afraid, yes, even the republican system will have problems with plutocrats, but it will be, indeed, less of a problem, because in the republican form of government the power rests in a written constitution, wherein the powers of the government are limited so that the people—not the small ruling oligarchy of plutocrats—retain the maximum amount of power themselves. As one example, I can’t imagine that if in a republic’s constitution it is written that the parliament shall have power to coin money and regulate the value thereof, this power could be ceded to a non-governmental plutocratic firm, such as the Federal Reserve.

    • john,

      while some systems are indeed better than others, any system can be gamed by the few for the few. And we humans are very adept at using the legal setup to get around the spirit and intent of the original laws and constitution. And any system is only as good as the people who follow them. A good system needs to be adhered to by society in order for it to be a good and effective system.

      The best we can do is minimize all of this with a good system and being always vigilant that the system is not corrupted. And this require the public to speak up and even protest if needed.

    • {I didn’t have the faintest idea of “any” communist (or people’s republic for that matter) government using their position to become wealthy}

      You gotta be kidding. China’s wealth inequality makes the US look like a socialist utopia. The mostly (and extremely) poor population of China is creaking under the weight of its rich rulers.
      [China’s Billionaire Congress Makes Its U.S. Peer Look Poor]
      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-02-26/china-s-billionaire-lawmakers-make-u-s-peers-look-like-paupers

      No, people in democracies are not conditioned to think anything. It’s a typical conspiracist nonsense. You can’t condition people in a free society: they are not programmable robots. You can influence their opinion, but so can others: it’s not a permanent thing. And no, we do not think that we make policy decisions. We elect people to make those decisions, and if we don’t like it, we can elect someone else next time. And yes, their decisions can be influenced by special interests, which is allowed in a democracy. That’s why Armenians can successfully (and justly) push their Genocide agenda, despite their small size.

      A republican system can be a democracy, and in the case of the US (and other established democracies) it is. The Federal Reserve example is another usual conspiracist nonsense. The Fed is not coining money, the US Treasury is. The Fed is regulating the money supply using money printed by the Treasury, fully authorized by the Congress. And the Fed is not directly regulating the value of money: it is regulating inflation, which is its job. And the Congress can delegate its powers to other entities. By the way, those who are against the Fed are those “plutocrats” that you complain about. So, really, who are you working for?

    • {while some systems are indeed better than others, any system can be gamed by the few for the few.}

      Thus, there is no need to aggrandize western democracy and downgrade other forms of government. And western democracy can certainly not be used as a system that other nations are often compelled to model themselves on.

      {And we humans are very adept at using the legal setup to get around the spirit and intent of the original laws and constitution.}

      In democracy, it is not humans who do so, but only a small circle of oligarchy at the top. As one example, again, the 1910 Jekyll Island meeting of a few plutocrats resulted in draft legislation for the creation of a US central bank and the pressure that they exerted on the president to get what they wanted. Thus, in violation of the US Constitution, which gives power to coin money and regulate the value thereof to the Congress, a non-governmental organization, the Federal Reserve, was created effectively usurping that power. “Humans” or “society”, as we see, had nothing to do with getting around the intent of the original law.

      {The best we can do is minimize all of this with a good system and being always vigilant that the system is not corrupted.}

      The system has already been corrupted by behind-the-scene powers, because these sinister powers positioned themselves beyond the people and their representatives’ reach. This was acknowledged by John F. Kennedy in his address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association on April 27, 1961. Your representative democracy was rendered impotent by these secret societies and however vigilant the people are, they have no mechanisms to change this. Again, in 2004, the people were given an option to choose between one presidential candidate and one incumbent, both of whom were known members of a secret society. Exactly how could the people change this?

      {And this requires the public to speak up and even protest if needed.}

      I hope you’re not serious. Do I really need to lay out the long list of public discontent and protests that were ignored by elected representatives and the government in this country?

    • john,

      You’re poopooing western democracy, but isn’t the utopian republican system you’ve described as the best system in your opinion, a form of western democracy?

      And I think you really need to look at China closely to see there are people in the communist party getting very very rich at the expense of the populace.

      I don’t think you understand as much as you think you do.

    • john,

      I think you’re being naive in one way (I certainly can’t claim to be not naive in world affairs).

      When there is money flowing through the hands of people in position, in any form of government, communist or your favorite system, there will be corruption. There will be corruption when there is no oversight, no checks and balances and no transparency. There is corruption everywhere but when you have oversight, checks and balances and transparency, the level of corruption is less.

      Corruption, the temptation to skim off from money that does not belong to you but passing in front of you, will always be there. Money and power trumps ideology and ideals. It’s a constant battle. A good system will reduce it. A bad system will make it worse.

      But it’s also not just the system, but the people in it.

    • {You gotta be kidding. China’s wealth inequality makes the US look like a socialist utopia.}

      No. I’m not kidding. The subject of my exchange with ‘Random’ was not about wealth inequality in the communist or people’s republics societies, but about the fact that in these forms of government there were/are no ruling classes of people whose power was/is derived from their wealth, read: plutocrats. In American “democracy” there is such a class. But if you wish to open a discussion on societal wealth inequality, consider for a start that the top wealthiest 1 percent in this “democracy” possesses 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 80 percent own only 7 percent.

      {You can’t condition people in a free society: they are not programmable robots.}

      If you really think that mass media and the political establishment in this society do not condition people making them programmable robots, then all I have for you is profound pity. Consider doing reading outside “A Patriot’s History of the United States”. But if you think scholars and experts who conduct academic research and publish serious works on the subject are all “conspiracists”, don’t bother stuffing up your brainpan with things you’ll never understand.

      {We do not think that we make policy decisions. We elect people to make those decisions. If we don’t like it, we can elect someone else next time.}

      Ugh, lol… So, “you” don’t make policy decisions, “you” elect people to make those decisions for “you”. This is what’s implied by this funny, yet paradoxically truthful, statement. And in the cases when large masses of eligible voters who elected people who make decisions disagree with their decisions, what do these voters do? For instance, during the mass social protest against the Vietnam and Cambodia wars or the more recent Iraq invasion, what exactly your “people who make decisions” did? And if you really think that next time when you elect someone else, this someone else will follow the voices of their electors, then, again, my profound condolences to you.

      {Decisions can be influenced by special interests, which are allowed in a democracy. That’s why Armenians can successfully (and justly) push their Genocide agenda, despite their small size.}

      Special interests and behind-the-scene manipulations by unelected and unrepresentative individuals—are two divergently different things. Who do you think JFK had in mind in his address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association on April 27, 1961? Armenians are pushing “their” [sic] Genocide agenda through publicly open, legally registered lobbying groups, not secret societies or shadowy cabals of various financial industry and transnational corporations. With 43 states that have recognized the Armenian Genocide, the federal authorities still suppress the issue. One hell of a democracy…

      {A republican system can be a democracy, and in the case of the US it is.}

      No. A republican system can only have some elements of a democracy, but it cannot actually BE a democracy, because a republican system is not based on a rule by the majority, but on a written constitution, i.e. rule by law.

      Let’s now consider what “conspiracist nonsense” a perplexed mind found in the subject on Federal Reserve. In America’s history there was no central bank from 1836, when the Second Bank of the United States lost its charter, to 1913, when the Federal Reserve Bill passed. That is, for almost 80 years, America lived happily without a central bank. The Fed says that its function is “to foster a flow of money and credit that will facilitate orderly economic growth, a stable dollar, and long-run balance in our international payments.” Wait… If the Americans haven’t had an “orderly economic growth, a stable dollar, and long-run balance in our international payments” which has been America’s history since the creation of the Fed system, why is it allowed to continue? It would seem that such a system with such dismal record for about 100 years would be abolished without delay. No?

      Then, all of a sudden, following a series of orchestrated financial panics and the 1910 Jekyll Island meeting of a few unelected plutocrats, in 1912 Woodrow Wilson was miraculously “elected” president (with 45 percent of the vote) and could now sign the Federal Reserve Bill after it had, no less miraculously, passed the House and the Senate on December 23, 1913, i.e. when most of the Congress was away for Christmas. Congressman—not conspiracist—Charles Lindbergh, and other representatives, such as Wright Patman, Louis Thomas McFadden and others, warned the American people that the Fed Bill “established the most gigantic trust on earth” and that with that bill “the invisible government by the money power will be legitimized. The law will create inflation whenever the trust wants inflation. The depressions will be scientifically created.” Patman, himself the Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee—not conspiracist—particularly stated: “In the United States we have in effect two governments: […] a duly constituted government and an independent, uncontrolled and uncoordinated government in the Federal Reserve System, operating the money powers which are reserved to Congress by the Constitution.”

      The Federal Reserve System is not “Federal” per se. It is privately owned and operated. Its member-banks own all of the stock, on which they receive tax-free dividends; its employees are not on civil service; and it may spend whatever it wishes. It is clear that the Fed is not physically coining money and that the US Treasury is when the Congress authorizes the Treasury to issue debt obligations to cover its operating deficit. But the Fed purchases these obligations, controls the amount of money, and sets the country’s monetary policy. It then loans money at an interest rate to banks who then lend it to ordinary citizens and private businesses. This allows a non-federal company to expand or reduce the economy’s supply of money, create inflation and deflation and regulate growth or recession at will. By creating inflation and deflation the Fed does directly regulate the value of money. This is not at all “fully authorized by the Congress”. Nowhere in the Federal Reserve Act did the Congress “fully authorize” the Fed to perform such manipulative duties. Nowhere does it say, either, that the Congress “delegated” its powers to the Fed. The Constitution gives Congress the power to coin money and regulate the value thereof. Therefore, the Fed is unconstitutional because it is not the Congress.

      Now go ahead and tell your elected “people who make decisions” to change this in pursuant to the US Constitution. Good luck… Come back to us with the results.

    • I’m not “poopooing” western democracy. I’m arguing against its beatification as panacea for all societal woes and against shoving it, often forcefully, in other nations as a system that they must model themselves on. This is NOT right. Western democracy is as imperfect as—more or less—any other form of government. It has a proven record of being utopian, because it failed miserably in the Athenian state, not being able to exist for two full centuries, when a few oligarchs and demagogues usurped power in a system which claimed to work based on a rule by the majority. “It has been observed that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.” Guess who might have said this? Alexander Hamilton…

      I didn’t say that the republican system was “the best” system. I said the republic is a better system. As far as “utopian republican system” is concerned, America’s Founding Fathers were for the republican system. Are you calling the founding fathers utopists? And the republican system cannot be “a form of western democracy”, because I thought you should know that one form of government cannot, by definition, be another form of government. It can have some elements of the other (voting, etc.), but the two forms are by far not the same.

      About China, you first stated that “plutocracy is true of any governing system […] look at China or communism.” After I debunked your point, you changed it to: “those in power came into power and used their position to become wealthy”. Random, China has one ruling political party. Thus she cannot be a democracy. Neither is she a communist state in the true sense of the word, because she functions under a free market economy. We’re not discussing wealth inequality in the Chinese society. We’re discussing whether it is true or false that in the communist or people’s republic systems there were/are ruling classes of people whose power is derived from their wealth, as in the US. There is no doubt in my mind that it’s fundamentally false. The plutocratic families of Rockefellers, Rothschilds, and Morgans all emerged in your beloved western democracies, not communist states.

      {When there is money flowing through the hands of people in position, in any form of government, communist or your favorite system, there will be corruption.}
      {Corruption, the temptation to skim off from money that does not belong to you but passing in front of you, will always be there.}
      {Money and power trumps ideology and ideals.}

      Three dead wrong statements with regard to the communist/people’s republic form of government. There was no to comparatively minuscule—depending on time periods and leaders—corruption in the communist/people’s republics. Corruption certainly was not “always” there: Stalin and Mao’s periods immediately come to mind. And money and power never were able to trump communist ideology and ideals. I don’t think you understand as much as you think you do.

      {There will be corruption when there is no oversight, no checks and balances and no transparency.}

      It is claimed that in your favorite system you have oversight, checks and balances, and transparency. Are you saying there is no corruption in the United States? Be careful with your response lest I have a ton of evidence for the point.

    • {“in the communist or people’s republics societies … there were/are no ruling classes of people whose power was/is derived from their wealth, read: plutocrats. In American “democracy” there is such a class”}

      So what? It does not mean these countries are better than the US. In fact, the reverse is true. Their ruling classes derive their power from the authoritarian system, and as a result, the abuse of power is far worse, since they don’t have the checks and balances of a democracy. That’s why, as the above article on China shows, the net worth of the 70 richest delegates in China’s National People’s Congress was over $89.8 billion in 2011, compared to the $7.5 billion net worth of all 660 top officials in the three branches of the U.S. government.

      I never said the rich in the US don’t try to manipulate the public opinion. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don’t. The term “conditioning” is usually used by conspiracists to imply more permanent programming of robot-like public, which is nonsense. Thanks to freedom of speech, people have access to different sources of information, and the truth eventually comes out. As Abe Lincoln, a man far smarter than your conspiracist idols, said: “you can fool some people all the time, all people some time, but never all people all the time”

      Yes, in a democracy, we the people do not make policy decisions. We elect officials to do it. And we know it. If you find this surprising, you are truly clueless about what a democracy is. The elected officials have no obligation whatsoever to fulfill the demands of protesters. Democracy is not mobocracy. Now, they have an interest in paying attention to the public’s views, as they want to be reelected. If they don’t think the public’s demands should be followed, they can try to persuade the public accordingly, but they need to deliver results. What they cannot do is keep ignoring the public opinion, or else they will not be reelected. That’s what happened in the Vietnam war, when public discontent eventually led to its ending in 1973. And that’s what happened with the Iraq war, when the public discontent led to Democrats taking the Congress and the White House, which led to the withdrawal oh American troops in 2011. And by the way, Obama’s election led to raising taxes on the richest Americans to pre-Reagan (!) levels, which is why the Wall Street hates him, as discussed in this recent and quite timely New York Times piece by a Nobel winner economist:

      [“Elections Have Consequences”]
      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/04/opinion/elections-have-consequences.html

      Your favorite JFK reference is another long-debunked balderdash that’s popular among conspiracists, who usually take it out of context. JFK gave the speech after the Bay of Pigs operation against Cuba. He was talking about the communist threat and the need for the US government to maintain some secrecy because of that threat, not about the Illuminati. This has been addressed million times here.

      As for Wilson, he was not elected due to some “miracle”; he was elected due to a split among Republicans between Roosevelt and Taft (really, this is textbook stuff). And the 80 years without a central bank were not “happy” times. The whole 19th century was filled with financial panics, with the longest depression in US history happening in late 1800’s, all because of rigid money supply. The Fed was created by Congress to address it. It has two key goals (its dual mandate): minimize unemployment and maintain stable prices. Has it always been successful? No government agency is. But it has learned from each recession, and since the 30’s, we have never had anything as serious as the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the US has seen enormous economic growth, inflation for the last 20 years has remained about 2% (you need some inflation to prevent Japanese-style stagnation), while the dollar reigns supreme. So, not a bad job.

      It’s good that you admit that the US Treasury, not the Fed, prints money. As for regulating its value, Congress can delegate it to any entity it wishes to. And it does not have to spell it out in the Federal Reserve Act. Its power to delegate is implied, as decided by the US Supreme Court. And Congress can abolish the Fed any time it wants to. It hasn’t, because the Fed is doing its job. As for the Fed, its not fully private. It is overseen by a board appointed by the president. It is supposed to be part private and part public to maintain its independence, so the ruling party won’t pressure it for political gains. This was crucial after the 2008 recession, when the Republican Congress (after 2010) kept accusing the Fed of “debasing the dollar.” Fortunately (and thanks to Obama shielding the Fed from the pressure), the Fed kept increasing the money supply, which is what you need to do in a recession (to prevent the money from drying up). As a result, the US did not slip into a double-dip recession (unlike Europe) and is now the fastest growing economy among advanced nations.

    • {“Guess who might have said this? Alexander Hamilton…”}

      Alexander Hamilton was not critiquing democracy in general. Pay attention to his words. He was talking specifically about “pure”, i.e. extreme, direct, non-representative, Athenian-style democracy, where people gather in a town-square and make laws, without separation of powers, checks or balances. We do not have an Athenian democracy. We have a representative democracy. And it’s quite dishonest to keep bringing up the ancient Athenian democracy as an argument against the modern Western democracy.

      {“And money and power never were able to trump communist ideology and ideals.”}

      Possibly one of the most absurd statements on these pages. Stalin killed 10’s of millions of people, including many devout communists, so he could maintain his power. Where exactly did Marx’s teachings say that was ok? And no corruption in communist countries? Please say that to anyone who lived during Brezhnev’s rule and see how soon they will laugh. People were stealing at every level, from the highest official to the simple construction worker. For Armenians, it proved especially tragic, when the 1988 earthquake, which was about as powerful as the 1994 Northridge earthquake (6.7-6.8), killed far more people due to poorly constructed buildings, as the Brezhnev-era buildings collapsed while earlier buildings didn’t:

      [“Gorbachev … said that the concrete blocks had been built with more than enough sand but too little concrete, and suggested that the concrete had been stolen. … The official communist party newspaper Pravda said that poor construction, like other issues of neglect in the Soviet system, could be blamed on the Era of Stagnation from the era of Leonid Brezhnev.”]
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_Armenian_earthquake

      And no, we are not saying US has no corruption. We are saying it has far less corruption, thanks to its democratic system, than dictatorships such as China or Russia. Which is fact. Take a look at Corruption Perception Index for each country:

      US: # 14
      Armenia: # 94
      China: # 100
      Russia: # 136

    • {It does not mean these countries [communist or people’s republics] are better than the US. In fact, the reverse is true [….] since they don’t have the checks and balances of a democracy.}

      I didn’t say these countries were better than the US. I said the form of government in the US is no better than these countries. Your checks and balances are cero absolute, because they couldn’t even contain the rise in western “democracies” of politically influential plutocratic clans of Rockefellers, Rothschilds, and Morgans.

      {I never said the rich in the US don’t try to manipulate the public opinion. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don’t.}

      They do most of the time, because their several families control mass media outlets in this country. As for Lincoln’s quote, I invite you and your ilk to learn from it: yes, all people cannot be fooled all the time for there will always be people, whom you so primitively call “conspiracists”, who will open our eyes to the truth. It takes courage and wisdom to accept it, but unfortunately most people are not endowed with these qualities.

      {The elected officials have no obligation whatsoever to fulfill the demands of protesters. Democracy is not mobocracy.}

      Who do you call a mob? Masses of citizens who participated in orderly social protests throughout the country for several years? Do you understand what “mob” is at all? And, no, it wasn’t the public discontent that “eventually” led to Vietnam War end, but a politico-military expediency. The fact remains that for many years during the war your elected representatives could care less about their voters’ mass protests against it. As for American troops in Iraq, they withdrew in 2011, likewise, because of a politico-military expediency and not as a direct consequence of public discontent. When in 2007, i.e. four years before withdrawal, 55 percent of Americans believed that they were fooled by the Bush administration and the Iraq invasion was a mistake and over 51 percent of eligible voters favored troop withdrawal, your beloved people “who make decisions” for you could care less about the opinion of the majority of their voters.

      If you ever read the text of JFK’s address, which I strongly doubt, you wouldn’t spew rubbish here about him talking after the Bay of Pigs “operation” against Cuba about “the communist threat and the need for the US government to maintain some secrecy because of that threat”. The Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, in JFK’s own words, “may have helped to illuminate” the challenge of a common danger, but, he said, “the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years”, repeat: “for many years”. Therefore, Bay of Pigs had no direct relation whatsoever to the issue that the president had chosen to address. Further, the term “secret societies” (plural) could not refer to the Soviet Union (singular) or the communist threat (singular) or even to the communist states, because in political and historical terminology, these states were normally called “closed” societies and never “secret” societies. Moreover, JFK could not call the communist states “secret societies” because this term was followed in his speech by the terms “secret oaths” and “secret proceedings”, as in: “we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings”. How could “secret oaths” or “secret proceedings” refer to the countries of the Eastern bloc? Besides, JFK said: “we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy”. The Soviet Union and the countries of the Eastern bloc could not pose a threat “around the world”, nor were they “conspiracies” in the ordinary sense of the word. The phrase “historically opposed” also indicates to intellectually inquisitive individuals that dismal period of fourteen years that passed from the start of the Cold War in 1947 to the year of JFK’s address in 1961, could not be portrayed as “historical” per se. Further, JFK didn’t express the “need for the US government to maintain some secrecy because of the communist threat”. On the contrary, he maintained that “the very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society”. Even if this issue is addressed not million but billion times, you and your ilk will never understand or admit the obvious truth.

      {And the 80 years without a central bank were not “happy” times. The whole 19th century was filled with financial panics. The Fed was created by Congress to address it.}

      Yes, a-ha, and the Panic of 1920 and the Great Depression of the late 1920s-1930s—all of which took place after the Fed was created, were for sure “happiest” times for Americans.

      {As for Wilson, he was not elected due to some “miracle”; he was elected due to a split among Republicans between Roosevelt and Taft (really, this is textbook stuff).}

      Really? Woodrow Wilson won the election in this glorious “democracy” of yours with but 45 percent of the vote. Roosevelt received more votes than did Taft. And Taft ran third. Have you read in your textbook stuff that the total of the votes cast for Taft and Roosevelt, when added together, would have been enough to defeat Wilson, i.e. 55 percent to 45 percent? Wilson and his Jekyll Island plotters knew that if it were a two-man race, Taft would have defeated Wilson rather handily. That is why a three-man race was staged, in which, I repeat, Wilson received only 45 percent of the vote.

      It was obvious for everyone except you, it seems, that the Fed doesn’t physically print money and that not everything should be understood in a one-dimensional, linear manner. Your blabbering about the Fed not being fully private, that the Congress can abolish it any time it wants to, and that the Fed does its job, is just that: blabbering. In reality, the Fed is fully private. It takes just a simple brain function and a simple look at its statute and structure to understand this. The Congress not only couldn’t abolish the Fed “any time it wanted to”, but almost all its attempts at exercising regulatory oversight of the Fed have failed in the past. And the Fed doesn’t “do its job”, because as a result of money that the Fed loans the US government, enormous quantities of national debt were accumulated, while as a result of the Fed’s ability to create economic cycles through the expansion and contraction of the quantity of money and credit, the Federal Reserve System can generate depressions thus encouraging the American people to borrow large quantities of money on credit to their disadvantage.

      What textbook are you reading? “A Patriot’s History of the United States”?

    • {We do not have an Athenian democracy. We have a representative democracy. And it’s quite dishonest to keep bringing up the ancient Athenian democracy as an argument against the modern Western democracy.}

      Excuse me, who are “we” and how many of “yous” labor in order to produce one short comment? And I had a hard time understanding what exactly is “dishonest”? To draw historical parallels is dishonest? Whether it was a direct democracy, as in Athens, or a representative democracy, as in the US, they are both democracies. Therefore, one cannot be “brought up against” the other. Both represent the SAME form of government. The Athenian one has miserably failed. The American one has essentially become a plutocratic oligarchy.

      As for Hamilton, he did critique both pure democracy and democracy in general. I re-read his speech at the Debates in the Convention of the State of New York on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution on June 17, 1788 and nowhere have I found that by “pure” he meant a non-representative democracy, as you conveniently interpreted it. On the contrary, in the paragraph that followed the one I cited, he added: “It was remarked that a numerous representation was necessary to obtain the confidence of the people. This is not generally true. The confidence of the people will easily be gained by a good administration. This is the true touchstone.” Elsewhere, Hamilton would say: “We are forming a republican government. Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy or some other form of dictatorship.” It is no surprise that there can be found no single word “democracy” in America’s Declaration of Independence.

      {“And money and power never were able to trump communist ideology and ideals. […] And no corruption in communist countries?”}

      Listen, might you have a reading comprehension predicament of which you’re unaware? What does corruption have to do with a general statement that money and power never were able to trump communist ideology and ideals? Where and when in the history of the fascist/communist/people’s republics have you seen money and power trumping their ideology and ideals? On the contrary, their ideology and ideals were so fossilized that it appeared nothing could shake their foundations.

      {And no, we are not saying US has no corruption. We are saying it has far less corruption, thanks to its democratic system}

      We?? And I’m saying that in the fascist, communist, and people’s republic forms of government (brought in here only as alternative forms of government) there was far less—to minuscule corruption as compared to the US, thanks to their non-democratic systems. Do you disagree with that? If you do, tons of undeniable historical facts will follow…

    • “It is claimed that in your favorite system you have oversight, checks and balances, and transparency. Are you saying there is no corruption in the United States? Be careful with your response lest I have a ton of evidence for the point.”

      I have never said this nor ever going to say it. It’s never about having no corruption at all. It’s about how much and how it is handled by a nation, its people and the political system. Corruption is human nature and exists everywhere. It’s how a nation handles it that is a reflection on that country.

      If you think I’m blind to corruption in the US than you’re not getting what I’m trying to say.

      Oversight, checks and balances and transparency must exist because of corruption. Otherwise if there was no corruption, ie. we can completely trust individuals in power with the flow of money and resources, then we would not need these things. So can we rest with these childish accusations?

    • What “childish” accusations, Random?

      You said: “There will be corruption when there is no oversight, no checks and balances, and no transparency”.

      I retorted that the form of government in this country claims it has oversight, checks and balances, and transparency, yet, as you admitted, corruption does exist in the US.

      You further said: “It’s about how much and how it is handled by a nation, its people and the political system”.

      Okay. To which I’ll retort that I’m ready to open a discussion, if moderators grant us their permission, to prove that although fascist, communist, and people’s republics had no oversight, no checks and balances, and no transparency, the level of corruption in their forms of government was much lower than in a democracy.

      I hope you’d agree with this sparing me from offering extensive historical evidence to support my argument. If you agree, please try to explain the phenomenon as to why in some cases a democracy is more corrupt than a fascist, a communist, or a people’s republic form of government.

  4. I just Want to express my compassion to the poor helpless citizens of Armenia. God deliver them from the grips of the leadership of thieves and evildoers.

  5. Mr. Jamgochian,
    Could you please expand on your thoughts as to why do you assume Armenia’s president, Mr. Sarkissian, will serve additional seven years after the expiration of his second term? I await impatiently for your response. Regards.

  6. Democracy appeals to society’s lowest classes yearning for a voice; the nation’s religious and ethnic minorities and homosexuals yearning for acceptance; politically naive romantics; and the intellectually shallow. Democracy is like a highly addictive and a very dangerous game that everybody can play (and everybody is being encouraged to play) but also a game that no one can actually win at. You keep trying and trying, you tear yourself apart in the process, yet you just cant win. The game is simply unwinnable, but you keep trying because it’s being pushed by the game’s creators. You keep playing because it’s highly addictive and you keep playing because everyone’s doing it. The creators and thus pushers of this game are the ones that have rigged the game in their favor. They can afford to play the game and even make it look as if they are winning at it… but for the rest of us it’s a nasty road to nowhere.

  7. { The corruption is a security issue for Armenia…… Armenia is tiny, landlocked and its population is not growing.}
    (Random Armenian // December 12, 2015 at 6:39 pm //)

    Random: so how does the existence of corruption in Armenia, such as it is, have anything to do the population of RoA not growing, for example ?
    If there was a causal link between corruption and population growth, Azerbaijan’s population would be shrinking year-in, year-out.
    The exact opposite is the case.
    Does anyone here @AW claim there is less corruption in Azerbaijan than in Armenia ? The whole country is practically owned by the corrupt, criminal Aliyev clan. It is corrupt from top to bottom. To the core.

    So how do you explain the _fact_ that Azerbaijan is far more corrupt, yet it registers population growth ?
    In fact, I can cite several other examples of countries similar in size and population to Armenia that have zero or near-zero corruption, yet have shrinking populations.

    • I didn’t say corruption was preventing the Armenian population from growing Avery. You can cite until you’re blue in the face but that wasn’t my point. I don’t know if it’s a conclusion you just happen to jump to or you’re deliberately and maliciously misrepresenting what I said, like you’ve done in the past.

      My point was that with all the issues facing Armenia, which put Armenia in a vulnerable position, corruption just makes things more dangerous for Armenia. It hinders economic growth in Armenia, which we need to see happen through sheer Armenian creativity and ingenuity. Armenia does not have oil to prop it up. Oil is essentially free money. While I’m glad corruption is not as high as in other countries, it must go down in Armenia. Less is more.

  8. {This was all driven to allow Sarkissian to continue to be in power.}
    (Random Armenian // December 14, 2015 at 12:09 am //)

    Do you have evidence of your scurrilous charge, or you are just repeating the lies of the deranged so-called “opposition” ?
    A rational opposition, ARF-RoA, fully supported the Constitutional Referendum. Are you saying ARF-RoA is in cahoots with RPA to perpetuate Sargsian rule ?

    In any case, _assuming_ the Constitutional change is as you allege, and since 50%+ voters of Armenia voted 2-to-1 to change the constitution, then it must mean that those who cared enough to participate in the referendum chose to continue with Serj Sargian, assuming he wants to, quote, “continue in power” after his current term ends.
    Is that not so ?
    Or maybe you are saying Armenia’s voters are too stupid to understand and did not know what they were voting for ?
    Which is it ?

    I mean, if voters in Armenia want Pres Sargsian to “continue to be in power”, who are we, non-citizens of Armenia residing in Diaspora to tell them what to do ?
    Or maybe we too have “Manifest Destiny”, by virtue of being “enlightened” (West) Diasporans and reserve for ourselves the right to lecture those non-enlightened, backwards Caucasus Hoi Polloi ?

    • It’s my personal belief Avery based on cynical outlook of the powers that be in Armenia.

      What was the need to change the constitution? What was exactly wrong with it?

      This would have been Sarkissian’s last term and would not be able to run until the election after (based on my understanding of the previous constitution). With the new one the door is now open for him to serve another 7 years immediately after this one if his party wins parliamentary style elections.

      Also, his party only needs to win one election with the most seats, instead of two.

      What happens in Armenia is the concern of every Armenian. The powers that be in Armenia have a huge impact on the vulnerable nation. And many in the diaspora have family ties there as well. Sarkissian may not be the leader of all Armenians world wide but everything that goes on in Armenia is open to discussion.

  9. { I didn’t say corruption was preventing the Armenian population from growing Avery}
    (Random Armenian // December 15, 2015 at 12:41 pm //)

    Read the sequence of sentences you wrote above:
    1: “The corruption is a security issue for Armenia.“
    2: “Armenia is tiny, landlocked and its population is not growing.”

    Yes, you did: you tied the two together.

    And the existence of corruption, such as it is, is not remotely a security issue for Armenia.
    You and others pushing that line are deliberately exaggerating a non-problem, to give a lever to enemies of Armenia to use to interfere in Armenia’s internal affairs and distract from the real security issues faced by Armenia. Security issue brought about by the same parties that endlessly rag on Armenia about things like “corruption”, “no democracy”, etc, etc.
    While keeping absolutely silent about almost weekly invasions of Armenian lands by their clients, who are the real security issue for RoA and NKR.
    While you and those that think like you were “concerned” about corruption, another 8 Armenian young men were KIA stopping Turkic invaders.

    (Random Armenian // December 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm //)
    {… everything that goes on in Armenia is open to discussion}

    You can discuss it until you’re blue in the face. Does not change facts on the ground. Citizens of Armenia voted 2-to-1: “Yes” to the proposed changes of the RoA Constitution.
    And the reasons for the proposed changes were discussed ad nauseam in open forums throughout Armenia.
    And the referendum was proposed a couple of years ago.
    Discussed, argued, counter-argued, then voted on.
    Passed 2-to-1. Done.

    The so-called “discussions” after the fact are nothing more than attempts to create distrust of authorities, distrust of civil institutions of RoA, suspicion of everything done by authorities. Attempts to manufacture an atmosphere is despair and hopelessness, so that Armenia enemies can have yet another opportunity to break her.

    {The powers that be in Armenia have a huge impact on the vulnerable nation}

    Anti-authority proselytizing, cloaked in so-called “discussion”, has an even larger impact on the safety and security of the vulnerable nation.

    • Read the sequence of sentences you wrote above:
      1: “The corruption is a security issue for Armenia.“
      2: “Armenia is tiny, landlocked and its population is not growing.”

      Umm no Avery, I did not tie corruption to Armenia’s population levels. I don’t understand why you’re lying like this. There is nothing more to say to you on this if you keep misrepresenting my words to mean something I did not.

      You want to bury your head in the ground when it comes to internal issues in Armenia. It’s like a taboo subject for you. You can’t deal with it.

      You avoided the point about the need for a constitutional change. What was the rational for the change? Was there a desire in the Armenian public in general to change the constitution?

  10. It is certainly not the fault of RPA and Serj Sargsyan for causing widespread apathy in the Armenian society. As I see it, the reason lays in how the Armenian society and its political establishment evolved during the past 20+ years. The sad fact is that the vox populi has not been followed in most of Armenia’s milestones, regardless of the fact whether there was a greater or lesser voter turnout or whether there was a greater or lesser number of eligible voters voting ‘no’. The outcome was the same: no change. Well, if the outcome was the same almost all the time and the people have been mostly incapable—and often incapacitated—of generating the change, then why the delusive presidential government is needed at all? The president of the parliament, as the head of state, elected by the parliament and not as a result of the devalued popular vote, is, to me, a better option than the relentless social commotions during and especially after every parliamentary and presidential elections or plebiscites. Prime-ministerial government, if everything boils down to it, as I sincerely hope, is even a better option in the sense that cabinets normally follow in much quicker succession than presidential administrations, while prime-ministers are not nominated as a result of direct popular vote.

    The frustratingly low figures of voter turnout in the US that poster ‘Avery’ brought up were known and only support the fact that the outcome of elections in this “democratic” presidential government is effectively manipulated by plutocratic elites at the top of the establishment and by several behind-the-scene groups, such as the Council of Foreign Relations, whose job is to make sure that whether it’s Republican or Democratic administration, there happens no change in–or threat to–the establishment. In this sense, there is no need to overstate Armenia’s growth problems and, paraphrasing the Bible, to look at the speck of sawdust in Armenia’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in America’s own.

  11. {You avoided the point about the need for a constitutional change. What was the rational for the change? Was there a desire in the Armenian public in general to change the constitution?}
    {Random Armenian // December 19, 2015 at 2:31 pm //)

    Your question was answered above:{In any case, _assuming_ …..Which is it ?}
    And you deliberately avoided to answer my question therein.

    As to what the rational was, that also was answered.
    But if you want to explore the rationale further, a poster put in links to a lengthy interview with Pres Sargsian in another thread.
    Take the time to listen to it, and decide for yourself what the rationale was. The President explained it quite well.
    https://armenianweekly.com/2015/12/03/demonstrations-against-reforms/
    (go to the comments section).

    In any case, it is none of my or your business what the rationale was. I am not an RoA citizen, and neither are you. As noted before, the citizens of Armenia voted 2-to-1 to pass it. If they did not want the change, they would have rejected it 2-to-1. 50%+ went out to vote: the previously announced and publicized threshold for passing was 33%.
    If RoA citizens did not want the change, less than 33% would go out to vote.
    If RoA citizens did not want the change, instead of “Yes”, they would have voted “No”. 2-to-1.
    Or you consider yourself and those in your camp better qualified to tell the citizens of RoA what kind of government they must have ?
    Like, you know, in Ukraine.

    You and those in your camp are endlessly “discussing” it after the fact, because you and those in your camp do not like the stability in Armenia, you do not like the steady progress being made thanks in large part to its stability: you want chaos in Armenia

    • Although the form in which the constitutional referendum was conducted (that is, decided by 50 percent + one vote and not by a two-thirds majority of votes and with threshold for passing of just 33 percent) and its actual unofficial results (83 percent of those who boycotted/showed apathy and those who voted ‘no’ combined), it was undoubtedly a step forward for Armenia, because the parliamentary and then the prime-ministerial government—not without their downsides, of course—are known to contribute to greater stability than the presidential system. At this stage, Armenia needs peace and stability more than anything else, although they come at a price. Next generation of RoA leaders will have to work to lay greater emphasis on the country’s social and economic development.

    • “Next generation of RoA leaders will have to work to lay greater emphasis on the country’s social and economic development.”

      You are clearly seeing that there is work to do in improving Armenia socially and economically. But why wait? Why can’t we have even better economic development now rather than later? Is it going to interfere with peace and stability? If so how? An improving economy reduces discontent and would improve peace and stability. Or do I have that wrong?

      I have been following the IT development in Armenia. It’s an amazing bright spot in the economy and it keeps growing. Why can’t we have more of it in other areas now rather than later? I understand that IT, where the product is virtual and in the form of a service and intellectual property is easier to develop than the more physical industries, but other areas could be developed as well no?

    • “Your question was answered above:{In any case, _assuming_ …..Which is it ?}
      And you deliberately avoided to answer my question therein. ”

      I replied to that post Avery.

      As for the ARF, well I think they see this as an opportunity to dominate and win the PM seat in the future. If they win enough seats, they get the PM as well. That’s their dream.

    • {You are clearly seeing that there is work to do in improving Armenia socially and economically. But why wait? Why can’t we have even better economic development now rather than later?}

      Because history develops in two motions: linear-irreversible and spiral. That is, as a very rough example, America could not preoccupy herself with economic and social development during or immediately after the Revolutionary War. America could not preoccupy herself with economic and social development during or immediately after the Civil War. America could not preoccupy herself with social development during or immediately after the mass Civil Rights unrest. In addition to that, America did not witness the horrors of genocide and the demise of an Empire, as a result of which millions were slaughtered, two-thirds of the Thirteen Colonies taken away, leaving her land-locked, resource-poor, economically blockaded, and surrounded by enemies who continue to threaten her to this day.

    • {“America could not preoccupy herself with social development during or immediately after the mass Civil Rights unrest.”}

      Yes it could, and it did. America was at the height of Cold War, facing the constant threat of annihilation far greater than anything Armenia is facing today, without the protection of a stronger ally. At the same time, America was fighting a bloody proxy war with its mighty adversary, the Soviet Union, which was doing all it could to stir up unrest inside America and turn America’s own disadvantaged citizens against their own government. Yet, America did not use Armenia’s excuse and turn more authoritarian. Instead, it met its citizens’ demands for greater civil rights, while significantly increasing the social safety net through the introduction of Medicare and expansion of Social Security and other social programs. Because healthy democracies understand that the only sure way to become stronger is to respect your citizens’ rights and meet their needs.

      Being landlocked is the oldest excuse used by Armenia’s successive regimes. Switzerland, which copied much from the US constitution, is landlocked and, during WW2, was surrounded by Hitler’s Germany and Fascist Italy, which were much more dangerous than what Armenia is facing today. And, again, it did not have the protection of a stronger ally. Yet its democratic government was able to skillfully use its military strength, diplomacy, and geographic location to its utmost advantage. And it was able to do it all while having four different languages spoken among its population. Armenia would probably descend into a civil war under such circumstances.

      Sure, the US did not lose any of its original 13 colonies. Instead, it grew stronger and larger. But why didn’t it lose land? After all, the mighty British Empire burned Washington DC in 1814. Geography (another old excuse)? Why others in the Western hemisphere did not have the spectacular success of the US? Because of the one thing that made the US different: its system, otherwise known as the American democracy.

    • john,

      I just don’t see why more economic development cannot be done in Armenia right now. The first step being reducing corruption. The reason for that is the current leaders do not want to reduce corruption because they are involved in it themselves.

      Dealing with corruption is not something one can excuse away through post-genocide conditions and being blockaded. Corruption reduction is one element of economic development and not tied to external and historical reasons. It’s a purely internal issue and tied to political will.

      I’m just not buying that work for social and economic development cannot start now. Look at the IT field in Armenia. That is a positive economic development happening right now. And it has social development component too. Have you seen how many Armenian women are involved in it?

      The fact that Armenia is a small land-locked country in a tough neighborhood surrounded by enemies is a reason to start economic development now rather than later. The sooner it’s started, the sooner it will be internally stronger.

  12. The Armenian referendum did not show the “imperfections” of democracy. It passed due to widespread fraud. Just google and see what the news cites are saying. This was yet another denial of the Armenian people’s democratic rights, all for the goal of prolonging Serzh’s regime. And the fact that it was passed by 50.1% vote says nothing about “flaws” in democracy. In a true democracy, something fundamental such as a constitutional amendment would never be allowed to pass by a simple majority. In the US, it would need 75% of the states, and that only after supermajority vote in Congress and the President’s signature. The reason it was allowed to pass in Armenia by a simple majority was to make the fraud easier.
    No, democracy is not “three wolves and a lamb voting for dinner.” If you think that, you don’t really know what democracy is. Democracy is not tyranny of majority: it is rule by the people, exercised directly (rarely) or through representation (usually, nowdays), subject to rules, checks and balances. And no, Ben Franklin did not say that quote. It was said by some libertarian dude in 1990’s (just google and find). The American Founding Fathers were not against democracy. They were against extreme democracy, devoid of checks and balances. This has been discussed million times here. And yes, the system they created has been and is called a democracy.
    Those of you who do not like the American system of democracy, I have a simple question. Why do you live in it? I invite you to leave my country and move to one of those systems you consider better. You like authoritarian China, go there and see if you can breathe. You like the parliamentarian system, move to stagnating Europe and see how you will be treated as immigrants. You won’t: you or you family (and millions of others) chose America (and not one of those other places) because it is the best system. Pure and simple. As long as you are living in it and enjoying its benefits, calling other systems better is an act of hypocrisy.

  13. Vahagn,” Those of you who do not like the American system of democracy and…bla…bla…blaaaa.” Yeah, yeah… yeah, enough of your illeterate lecture on foreign politics. Two party system here in the United States, does not constitute to democracy. It’s like this, you have a pile of cow dung split in half. One half is left side dung and the other is right side dung, however, they both are the same dung. Smell the same, look the same and most likely taste the same. In a tiny three million Armenia or 150,000 Artsakh, we have over six or seven political parties who compete against one another to serve their motherland. Now, that is what being considered a true democracy. In addition, if you think the People of the United States chooses their president then you have failed to do your homework. I’ll give you two clues to educate yourself: Electoral College and AIPAC. Good Luck.

    • {“Two party system here in the United States”}

      “Here” in the US? So you are in the US? Why are you then in the US, if its system is so bad? If you think Armenia’s system is better, why do you not move there? Two parties, by definition, are a better choice than one party, which is no choice. Armenia has a one party rule: Serzh’s Republican party which has ruled Armenia for nearly 20 years. The other parties play 0 role because they are marginalized due to fraudulent elections. And no, the two US parties are not the same. If that were true, Wall street billionaires would not spend billions to elect a Republican and defeat Democrats:

      [Democrats, Republicans and Wall Street Tycoons]
      [“if Wall Street’s attitude and its political giving are any indication, financiers themselves believe that any Democrat, Mrs. Clinton very much included, would be serious about policing their industry’s excesses. And that’s why they’re doing all they can to elect a Republican.”]
      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/16/opinion/democrats-republicans-and-wall-street-tycoons.html

      And you clearly do not know how the electoral college works. It casts votes for the president based on the wishes of the majority of voters per each state. Please do your homework and some proofreading before posting.

    • {You clearly do not know how the electoral college works. It casts votes for the president based on the wishes of the majority of voters per each state.}

      You do?? So this is how the electoral college works, huh? By casting votes based on the wishes of the majority of voters per each state? But how should a democracy in general work, do you know? Since electoral college works by casting votes based on the voters per state, what happened to the direct popular election—the key requirement in a democracy? I always knew that in a genuine democracy, if I may say so, a president is elected through a direct popular vote, based on the “one-person—one-vote” principle, and having obtained the highest number of votes in the final round of popular voting. No? And, I guess, the fact that several times in the US history electoral college produced a winner who did not receive a majority of the nationwide popular vote, is also not important in a democracy, right? And the fact that the number of voters in the states on whose behalf the electors cast votes is sometimes radically disproportionate is also not important in a democracy, right?

  14. “It’s like this, you have a pile of cow dung split in half. One half is left side dung and the other is right side dung, however, they both are the same dung. Smell the same, look the same and most likely taste the same.”

    Jay, loved it, absolutely loved it…

  15. {If you think Armenia’s system is better, why do you not move there?}
    (Vahagn // January 8, 2016 at 8:26 am //)

    The reason might be that there is no such country as Armenia.
    At least according to you.
    Didn’t you, like, you know, put Armenia in quotes in another thread, as if it does not exist ?

    “unlike the thugs in the pathetic state of “Armenia” (oh, and in that terrorist entity called “nkr”.)”

    Of course [Jay] could move to Artsakh, aka NKR, but again, according to you it is…” a pathetic little piece of aborted fetus”
    Looks like poor Jay is all out of options.

    • {“Didn’t you, like, you know, put Armenia in quotes”}

      That might be someone else in our agency. Or a bot. Our AI units have made some real progress.

      I did hear, though, that you blamed the victims of the Genocide. Like, comparing them to animals or something.

  16. {Thanks to freedom of speech, people have access to different sources of information […]}

    “Thanks to a freedom of speech”… Two days ago a university professor in Florida was fired by university administration for raising doubts about whether the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings resulted in the deaths of so many children and for claiming that the shooting was staged by the government in an attempt to collect firearms from Americans. Note, the professor stated his opinion neither in his official capacity nor during his lectures nor anywhere within the walls of his university. He did this in a non-violent, noninflammatory way in his personal social media, based on “freedom of speech” guaranteed by the first amendment of this democratic country’s constitution. Yet, he was fired for holding an opinion–right or wrong, doesn’t matter. If such a thing happened in Armenia, the democratic state department of this democratic government would rush to raise hell in its annual country human right report. Anyone doubts?

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