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  Long way towards democracy in Armenia

Valentinas Mitë
2008 05 15

The state of emergency which has lasted nearly a month, has finally been cancelled in Armenia. President R.Kocharian has declared this on 1 March after disorders in Yerevan related to the results of the presidential elections. Prime Minister S.Sarkssian, openly supported by R.Kocharin, has won the elections in the first round. L.Ter-Petrossian, a candidate from the opposition, did not manage to get a few additional votes so as to participate in the second round. According to the opposition, bulletins were forged during the elections, the electorate was bribed and was under constant pressure.  The Western observers also acknowledged that there were violations during elections.

Supporters of L. Ter-Petrossian went out to Yerevan’s streets, however the rally has been dispersed with force. Several hundred protesters, among them - L. Ter-Petrossian - were arrested, inquired by the state security and accused for the organization of the rally.

Today situation in Armenia is relatively calm, however, the election campaign and the above disorders have indicated that Armenia is far away from democracy. The key problem is that the executive bodies have more powers than the Parliament, and President also has disproportionately huge authorities.  R.Kocharian did everything so as to make his successor S.Sarkissian the elected president.  The selection of the successor reminds the „elections“ of the Russian president. The only difference is that there was no such a big protest in Russia.

Presidential elections and following disorders indicate not only the unwillingness of politicians to obey the will of the electorate, but also how far away Armenia is from the norms of democracy. One should remember that L. Ter-Petrossian has already been Armenia‘s leader and ten years ago sent the police to disperse demonstrants who protested against manipulations of the election results.

All political scientists agree that corruption is one of the major Armenia‘s problems, and that it involves all policy and governance levels. Usually political parties are established in order to represent interests of business groups, and votes of the electorate are openly bought.  According to Freedom House, the ordered murders in Armenia are a reality, as well as the mass avoidance to pay taxes. Another problem – absolute indifference of society in political matters and a cynic approach towards policy as a source of gain.

Free press is one more Armenia‘s problem. According to the laws, state institutions are obliged to provide information to the media, however, it is practically impossible to get the information. The media is also corrupted.

Armenia‘s situation has worsened also because of the unresolved issue of Nagorny Karabachos. Everybody in Armenia understands that this issue would be eventually resolved by using force if diplomatic efforts fall flat. Being aware of Azerbaijan‘s oil resources and weapon purchasing power, we can only sympathize Armenia.

By the way, during the recent few months presidential elections took place in Russia, Georgia and Armenia. Authorities of the above three countries have managed to reach their goals and, consequently, confirmed, that practically there is no democracy in these countries. The Russian president was elected without major protests, whereas protests in Georgia and Armenia resulted in fatalities, but did not give any results. The two recent examples show that the so called „colored revolutions“ could be suppressed if the authorities had enough power and will to use force.

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