The snap parliamentary elections have been tumultuous. A lot has been written and said about the candidates in these elections as to who should lead Armenia in light of the recent devastating war, dismal condition of the people and threats against the territorial integrity of Armenia and Artsakh.
Nikol Pashinyan came to power three years ago. The overwhelming majority of the Armenian people, both in Armenia and the Diaspora, fervently welcomed him, reacting to their dislike of the former leaders. However, Pashinyan did not justify the people’s enthusiastic support and their expectations. Many were disappointed with his inept performance both during and before the war. Even then, the antagonism for the former leaders was so intense and the prospect of their returning to power was so feared that most voters either stayed out of the election or voted for Pashinyan. What was really surprising is not so much Pashinyan’s landslide victory—winning almost 54-percent of the votes cast—but the fact that the coalition led by former Pres. Robert Kocharian was able to receive as high as 21-percent of the votes.
Nevertheless, the people in Armenia have spoken. We should respect their choice whether we agree with them or not. Diaspora Armenians do not have a vote in Armenia’s elections. Not even the citizens of Armenia who live outside the country can vote unless they go back home on election day. So, this is a choice made by those who live on the ground in Armenia. They will rightly bear the immediate impact of their choices, good or bad. In my opinion, Pashinyan does not possess the ability to lead a country with so many problems. Rather than finding solutions, he has regrettably made matters worse by his own incompetence and that of his advisors and ministers.
Regrettably, a lot of violent, vile, hateful and insulting words were said during the campaign, particularly by Prime Minister Pashinyan. It was unbelievable that he would wave a hammer during the campaign speeches and threaten to use it on his opponents after the election. He repeatedly threatened to lay them on the asphalt and plaster them to the wall! Those are words that no self-respecting leader should use in addressing his people, whether they support him or not. Pashinyan also told the people repeatedly that he will change his previously-described “velvet revolution” to a “steel revolution.” It is amazing to me that a man who came to power preaching tolerance and advocating democratic principles has turned into a tyrant who is threatening violence toward his own political opponents. Such hostile language is more appropriate to be used against Armenia’s foreign enemies.
I just hope that after suffering from the violence of our enemies, Armenians do not resort to committing violence on one another due to political disagreements. There should be a civilized discourse and polite expression of opinions.
The other strange phenomenon we encountered is the government’s announcement prior to the election that there were 2,578,678 eligible voters. This is a very strange figure given the fact that the country’s population is around 2.9 million. If one subtracts the 700,000 youngsters under the age of 18 who cannot vote, the number of eligible voters should be much less than the announced figure. The only valid explanation is that hundreds of thousands of Armenians who permanently left the country many years ago are still registered as voters. The inflated number of eligible voters is the reason that the election results wrongly show that a little less than 50-percent of them voted. It is high time that the government update its voting registers to eliminate the large number of people who have left the country for good. Since voters need to have a domestic address, those who have moved out of the country should no longer be eligible to vote. Furthermore, cleansing the voting registers would eliminate election fraud as locals would be unable to vote for those who have left the country, as has happened in the past.
As expected, there were a lot of accusations of voter fraud resulting in the losing sides rejecting to accept the outcome of the election. We need to wait for the courts to make their determination before we jump to any conclusions.
Pashinyan’s opponents had urged him to leave office and not let his government oversee the elections, fearing an undue influence over the electoral process. However, Pashinyan refused to do so and remained a caretaker prime minister. As a result, he committed two serious violations even before the first vote was cast. He started campaigning several weeks before the legally authorized start of the campaign and used the resources of the government during his campaign trips, which is also illegal.
A sharply divided nation before the election became even more split after the election. Rather than advancing democracy in the country, successive elections have caused more instability in the country distancing Armenia further from any semblance of a democratic country. There is so much hatred among Armenians that one does not have to worry about Armenia’s enemies. Regrettably, Armenians have become their own worst enemy. It is incumbent on all Armenians, regardless of their political preferences, to lower the degree of hostility, especially on social media, and learn to express their disagreements without being rude and hostile. The onus is on the leader of the country to set an example of tolerance and urge everyone to be more civilized toward one another, instead of inflaming the passions and using threatening language. After all, we are all the sons and daughters of the same nation, and we should put our collective interests and the survival of the nation ahead of any other issue.
Now that two parliamentary opposition groups are about to occupy one-third of the seats in the National Assembly, the discussions and disputes, no matter how sharp, should be transferred from the street to the halls of the legislature.
Finally, regardless of whom we supported in the elections, we should not lose sight of the fact that the people of Armenia and Artsakh are in a destitute situation, particularly after the recent war; we should do whatever we can to support them. We should also try to help our leaders, even if we disagree with them. I hope, in return, Armenia’s leaders will welcome our extended hand and be willing to listen to the advice offered to them. We wish our people the best and pledge to do everything in our power to stand by them so they do not think they are abandoned to their tragic fate.
I don’t usually disagree with Mr Sassounian, but this one for me misses the mark by a wide margin. It’s also not in the spirit of the ARF when stuff is stated like “We should also try to help our leaders, even if we disagree with them”. Seriously? What leaders?? If Armenia had leaders, we would have had Nakhichevan and Javakhk and making plans in the Black Sea by now. These “leaders” you speak of destroyed our homeland.
Also, the people of Armenia have NOT spoken. 50% voter turnout, and 50% Pahinyan vote means 25% support, and that’s assuming no fraud which is not likely. I would hardly call that the “people of Armenia have spoken”. The bulk of the people of Armenia are so disgusted, as are the diaspora, they want nothing to do with both Pashinyan and “Nakhkinner”. Perhaps this is actually a bit of good news for Armenia.
It seems the Armenian “Revolutionary” Federation is no longer interested in engaging in its own mission statement any more. Let’s also change that name now, it’s getting quite embarrassing, and those who gave their lives are rolling in their graves.
So, in the same column that you rejoice and welcome the fact that the Hayastan Bloc received a “surprising” high number of votes, you describe the Prime Minister as a tyrant. How will your readers decide to engage or continue engaging Armenia and Artsakh, or support their leaders, if you believe the chief of the government is a tyrant?
If you care about the people of Armenia, you will do everything possible to assist them, regardless of who the leader is, regardless of whether you like him or not. Leaders are temporary, but the people are permanent.
I am Turkish and Australian. In Turkish elections we can vote from the consolate, I don’t have to be in Turkey. In Australian elections voting is compulsory. Armenia has a smaller population then Australia and yet voting is not compulsory. Armenian citizens living in the US (duel citizens) can not vote in the elections eventhough the Armenians aboard are heavily involved in its politics. Am I missing something or just wrong? Make voting compulsory if residing in Armenia and allow duel citizens to vote from overseas. I write this because if diaspora had voted there is no way he would of won the elections (judging by the many articles, comments I have seen).
That said this Pashinyan will never leave office now. Midnight purges will come and more land give aways will occur (he said he will conduct purges himself… Also he doesn’t seem to worried about losing lands again judging by his actions and talk). Whatever cements his position will be the only thing he will be concerned about not the posperity of the nation. Hey thats fine with me as I am Turk…
Hi dear so called “friendly Turk”,
a few reminders to you. Turkey has a small portion of its people living outside since it has 85+ million population. Armenia is the total opposite, diaspora has multiple times more voters than the people who live in mainland. Their vote will dominate the outcome and it’s not right as they don’t live in Armenia and they don’t know the inner politics as well as people who live on mainland, neither they care of the good outcome as much as people who live in Armenia. So it makes complete sense for diaspora not being able to vote.
Pashinyan is not responsible for the war outcome, it was the corrupt previous leaders who caused this situation by not getting the country’s military stronger and failing to mobilize the international community for a solution for Artsakh region. Turkey’s involvement also greatly changed the outcome of this war to Azeris favor, but even more important factor was Putin’s green light to Azeris as everyone know Pution doesn’t like democratic leaders like Pashinyan.
The Artsakh war ended with our total defeat NOT last November 09, 2020, but on June 21, 2021. On June 21st, we Armenians collectively said to the world that we are a defeated nation, Artsakh no longer belongs to us, and we deserve all our losses in lives and land. On June 21st, we became the sole owners of our historic and embarrassing defeat. Henceforth, no more blaming Russians, no more blaming Westerners, no more blaming even Turks/Azeris for our people’s collective incompetence, political illiteracy, self-hate, shortsightedness, emotional handicaps and suicidal behavior. We clearly had a chance to put into power someone who is Putin’s friend – in order to at least derive some benefit from the pathetic situation we are in – we instead chose to put into power someone who is essentially Putin’s hostage. We could have put into power men like Robert Kocharyan, Karen Karapetyan, Ara Abrahamyan and Vazgen Manukyan into power to guide Armenia out of its current darkness, we chose to keep in power a Western financed, pro-Turkish government who who does not see Artsakh as Armenian land. Congratulations. God bless “democracy” and “people power”. Henceforth, Moscow will decide Armenia’s future will little if any input from Yerevan. Good for them…
Western-financed pro-Kremlin Turkish stooge? Instead you want Ara Abrahamyan (has lived in Russia for 25+ yrs), Karen Karapetyan (resides in Moscow, lived there for more than a decade), or Robert Kocharyan whose rally featured Russian flags… and you think any of these would be less pro-Moscow? Isn’t this incredibly confusing?
As soon as Nikol showed his face back in 2018, I knew we were going to suffer a disaster in Artsakh. I am not a psychic. I just have a good understanding of the region’s geopolitics. After all, the same had happened in Azerbaijan in 1992, with Elchibey. The same had happened in Georgia in 2008, with Saakashvili. The same had happened in Ukraine in 2014, with their Maidan. In all those cases, a pro-Western and a pro-Turkish government came into power, just like in Yerevan, and Russia punished them severely. So, anyone that at any point wanted to rid Armenia of its so-called “oligarchs” and/or westernize Armenian society, had a hand in what happened last autumn. In a nutshell: Nikol is what you all deserve. Armenians have always been Armenia’s worst enemy.
The Artsakh war ended with our total defeat NOT last November 09, 2020, but on June 21, 2021. On June 21st, we Armenians collectively said to the world that we are the sole owners of our historic and embarrassing defeat. Henceforth, no more blaming Russians, no more blaming Westerners, no more blaming even Turks/Azeris for our people’s collective incompetence, political illiteracy, self-hate, shortsightedness, emotional handicaps and suicidal behavior.
We had a chance to put into power someone who a friend to President Putin – in order to at least derive some benefit from the pathetic situation Armenia is in today – we instead again chose to put into power someone who is essentially President Putin’s hostage. We could have put into power men like Robert Kocharyan, Karen Karapetyan, Ara Abrahamyan and Vazgen Manukyan into power to guide Armenia out of its current darkness, we again chose to keep in power a Western-financed, pro-Turkish government who does not see Artsakh as Armenian land.
Congratulations to all. God bless “democracy” and “people power”. Henceforth, Moscow will decide Armenia’s future will little if any input from Yerevan. Good for them…
The Artsakh war was lost during Pashinyan’s leadership, but not because of Pashinyan’s leadership. Pashinyan is maybe not competent enough to have fixed disorganized and deprived army in the short time he had, but the roots of the defeat was laid years before when the state budget was robed for decades and hundreds of thousands of young Armenians left the country because of corruption, and with it the economy and the army were severely weakened. The majority of diaspora Armenians who support Kocharyan are supporters of the ARF, who blindly believe and follow the corrupt ARF leadership in Armenia. They never experienced the corruption and unjustice that the people of Armenia had to endure during Kocharyan’s and Sargsyan’s years, nor did they or anyone in their families ever serve in the army during those years, to know the miserable state of the army. This is why they still don’t seem to comprehend why almost 75% of the voters in Armenia voted against Kocharyan/Sargsyan/ARF in this elections. If Kocharyan and Sargsyan had spent 20 years to build a strong and corruption free economy that could fund a well equipped and well organized army, then no political leader, no matter how incompetent they were, could have impacted the outcome of the war so much and in such a short time. Donald Trump is the best example for how an incompetent political leader can not cause too much damage, if you have a strong and well developed state institutions, economy and army.
Armenians do not need to get along with Turks, and they do not need to get along with Azeris. Fighting and arguing is smarter, because Armenia will not benefit from access to the Black Sea or some kind of corridor to the Caspian! Being landlocked is much better.
So leaders like Pashinyan are perfect for Armenia’s bright future.