Notes From Hairenik
February 15, 2008

Although I am not a citizen of Armenia and have no right to vote whatsoever, I am a taxpaying, law abiding resident of the republic and I obviously care about what is going on around me in society. For the last few weeks especially I have been closely following the political arena, examining where the politicians stand and waiting for their decisions to be made regarding their ambitions to be president. I admire Artur Baghdasarian’s decision to refuse to endorse Levon Ter-Petrossian and to continue his fight for the presidency—he is a vibrant maverick candidate and the program of the Orinats Yerkir party which he leads has always impressed me. Unfortunately, the alliance I wanted to see as a true opposition force—Baghdasarian, Raffi Hovannisian, and Vasken Manukian, did not happen. And none of them so far at least have joined forces with the ARF-Dashnaktsutiun, the candidate of which, Vahan Hovannisian, has vowed to stick it out to the end.

At this point in the race, while trying to be as subjective as possible in my thinking and interpretation regarding the elections, I want to express my support for Vahan Hovannisian. Of all the opposition candidates I think he is generally the strongest ideologically and is very confident of a potential win. His campaign message hit home with me and although it may be a bid vague regarding his intentions for the next five years, I know the party program and have never lost my faith in it as a viable ideology that is essential for the Armenian people to use as a basis for its struggle to maintain the integrity of their nation. I think the socialist principles of the ARF-D are what will define the Armenian republic’s society, if not in the immediate future perhaps more importantly in the long term. Social equality and justice are two principles that the party has always preached, and their goals put forth during the parliamentary elections are realizable, they are certainly attainable, and under Hovannisian they can be brought to fruition. He would be even stronger if he received the backing of candidate Vasken Manukian, who was the main challenger against Levon Ter-Petrossian in 1996 and was believed by the people at the time to be the actual winner (endorsed by the ARF-D then). A campaign alliance with Raffi Hovannisian was anticipated but regrettably that did not happen.

Naturally no one can really say what is going to happen on election day, which is Tuesday. For about four months now the newspapers and people on the street have been predicting that Prime Minister Serge Sargsyan will win. And as I wrote in a previous post unwavering support for former president Levon Ter-Petrossian is troubling since I think he is an untrustworthy, shifty-eyed character who will not bring anything beneficial to Armenian society, in fact its advancement will be stilted for the three years he pledges to serve (rather than the full five-year presidential term). The more I ponder the more I realize that a vote for Dashnaktsutiun’s Vahan Hovannisian would be a wise one, no matter what his chances might be. But the most important thing in these elections are for citizens of Armenia to get out the vote, to cast a ballot with their heart instead of cash, and to choose the candidate they see is the justifiable one to elect. Needless to say, we are all anxious to see what materializes on February 19.


Blogger Hakop said...
As the presidential election day approaches, how is the spirit of the Armenian people? Is there a buzz/excitement in the street?

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
There is quite a bit of excitement. The elections is the topic on everyone's lips and all the people with whom I am in regular contact every day whether they are work associates or friends all have something to say. The majority of people who I asked replied that they would vote for candidate Vasken Manukian as they believe he is the only one worth voting for. People seem to be very anti-Serge Sargsyan despite what the media says and support for him seems to be superficial in that many are pressured to support him, including teachers and rank-and-file government employees. Some people are being threatened with losing their jobs, and apparently there was an incident where people already lost them when someone from an unidentified polling group called them to ask who they were going to vote for--those who did not respond that they would vote for Serge Sargsyan were fired.

There is great support for Levon Ter-Petrossian as his rallies seem to have been the most popular with tens of thousands attending each one. But yesterday I heard something strange from a friend. Apparently there is a sentiment that because Ter-Petrossian's wife is Jewish, some people would vote for another candidate instead. Another person I know brought up the point that if that was indeed the case, then why was he elected as the republic's first president in 1991?

Anyway, tomorrow's the big day and it seems that although Serge is expected to be the winner, that may not necessarily be the clearcut case. We'll see what happens. The day will be anything but boring.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
It is Election Day, 7:30 PM, and it is evident that widespread election violations have taken plave in Yerevan and throughout the country!!!Consider it a stolen election if Sargsyan is declared the winner. As for your preferred candidate ARF-D, Vahan Hovhannesyan, neither he or the party have had nothing to say about the day's events. They have sold out, as is their custom!!!!
They need to be banished from the country!!!!! (Arapo)