The Price of Freedom in Armenia BLOG 2

New political situation created in Armenia

This autumn, forces united by a strive to switch the government have entered the political life of Armenia. The opposition quartet is making radical demands again. Dashnaktsutyun left the quartet but it was replaced by the People’s Party of Armenia (PPA) headed by lawmaker Stepan Demirchyan.

At protests in regions and then in Yerevan on October 10, oppositionists were speaking about the need to switch and government and make radical changes.

“The country is in a unique situation when the government was left in solitude, and opposition united. If people rise and make us switch the government, it would become a reality, assumes Armen Martirosyan, vice president of the Heritage Party.

Secretary of the Prosperous Armenia fraction Naira Zograbyan said that 300-400 people were leaving the country every day. In her words, the government created such living conditions that many people commit suicide.

Levon Zurabyan, the head of the Armenian National Congress (ANC) fraction and the party’s vice president, said at a meeting in Yerevan on October 10 that it was time for the regime to give up power to the nation. Opposition offers a peaceful switch of power. “The regime and opposition should publicly reach an agreement on the road map of ceding power. The regime should abnegate the intention of reproducing Serzh Sargsyan’s power using constitutional changes, prepare the electoral system for real democratic elections and form legitimate power in Armenia in limited time. In this issue, the government needs several days. If they start persisting and reject the variant, our next protest will gather more people, and our only goal will be to oust the government using an all-national, civil wave of disobedience.”

The agenda of the quartet includes off-year presidential and parliamentary elections, blocking of government-initiated constitutional reforms. Financial, economic and social improvements are part of the plan. Overall, opposition has 12 demands, which are not an economic program but they are necessary to make changes.

Despite the common political agenda, ANC, Heritage and Prosperous Armenia were most likely seeing different outcomes. They have different reasons for ousting the government. Raffi Ovannisyan, the leader of the Heritage Party, probably has personal motives. He believes that the government stole his victory achieved at the presidential polls in 2013. Prosperous Armenia leader Gagik Tsarukyan, a major businessman, realizes the catastrophic situation in business and remains concerned about prospects of the economic situation. ANC remains a radical oppositionist demanding a switch of power, democratization and punishments for the death of 10 people on March 1, 2008…

The three parties are not opposed to Armenia’s joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU), while Heritage expresses a contrary opinion, believing that the organization is a threat for sovereignty of Armenia.

Despite different approaches, there are no issues of foreign policy in their agenda. According to ANC leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan, activeness of opposition in the parliament has overgrown the people’s movement that has no geopolitical goals and concentrates on solution of interior problems. In his words, joining the Eurasian Union is an irreversible fact and attempts of 20-30 people to prove the contrary are absurd.

The alliance of Prosperous Armenia, ANC, PPA and Heritage, development of a common agenda and a common strategy demonstrate that Armenia is in a new political situation. The long standoff of opposition and the government in the parliament has turned into a new, wider format, where masses of people are involved. The main reason conditioning the change of format is stubbornness of the Armenian government, its rejection of any proposal or project of opposition. Despite numerous public protests and all arguments of the opposition to cancel the accumulative component of pensions, the government has made no concessions. Proposals of the opposition have introduced changes to the new law on turnover tax. The latter has caused a major grievance among workers of food markets. The parliamentary majority spoke out against the law. The government concerned about rising protests has only agreed to freeze effects of the law for four months. The reluctance of the government to make even minimal changes has forced opposition to take the fight beyond the parliament.

Source: Vestnik Kavkaza