The Makings of either a New Government or a New Armenia

If Raffi is going to be a proper president, he needs to establish his new cabinet. Impressively, this will involve generating lists of hundreds of possible names and letting the public choose. While the opposition laughs at the idea, Raffi is actually going back to the style of leading a popular movement rather than an individual protest. The point of this new government is to encourage public participation, develop young leaders, and destroy the fear people associate with the government.

His new government can’t stand alone; it needs popular support. Thus, a signature gathering campaign has begun, asking:

 “I, a citizen of the Republic of Armenia, welcome the newly elected president Raffi Hovannisian’s struggle, for ratification of the Armenian people’s victory and our national revival. I am ready to fully support Raffi Hovannisian in his and our sacred struggle and participate in new Armenia’s inauguration scheduled for April 9.”

In a low-trust country like Armenia, this is a bold move. People fear the press police that record the faces of everyone at the crowds, now the people are being asked to give their names. But, the fear is not stopping people from signing the petition. The people are also being asked for donations for the Barev Democratic Development Fund, which will create websites and further the message of the movement.

The Pre-parliament group has also been busy hosting a discussion on Armenia’s foreign policy. Their public discussions are invaluable in not just developing yet another think tank but a space for public debate and engagement.

This type of grassroots public activity is exactly what Raffi needs to promote. In the battle of him versus the government, he can’t win. In the battle of the people versus the government, the people can’t lose.

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4 Comments

Filed under Elections

4 responses to “The Makings of either a New Government or a New Armenia

  1. This sounds like populist demagoguery to me.

  2. Gabe Armas-Cardona

    Depends on what the goal is. If Raffi is trying to create protests to overthrow the President, then I see how he can seem like a demagogue. But, I think everyone agrees that that is extremely unlikely since Raffi has been emphasizing the peacefulness of his rallies and he doesn’t have enough people to do it.

    The way I view it is that he’s trying to create a more western-style political party. He wants an organization that allows the people to contribute, that vets young leaders and helps them percolate to the top, and that can become a permanent political support base. To make this happen, he has to provide the people something new, something different from the typical top-down authoritarian approach. What he offers is a very high level of engagement. And, many Armenians feel starved of this engagement and are loving it. The question is whether Raffi can keep up the level of engagement long enough for him to create a new strong support base that could, for example. get volunteers to go door to door to ask voters to vote for Heritage’s candidate in the upcoming Yerevan election.

    • Fair enough. But no need to violate the very rule of law he espouses. Create a Western-style party – to be honest, my reaction is, it is about time! Armenia needs to have real parties with a mission and an actual and realistic plan. Most Armenians are too practical to engage in feel-good chanting in the square as they know this is not how (good) change comes about.

      • Gabe Armas-Cardona

        I completely agree. Part of what hurt Raffi’s campaign is that before his actual campaign, no one really knew what he stood for or what he’d do. The difference between the official results and pre-campaigning polls is huge. If the campaign lasted a few weeks longer, he might have been able to force a run off, regardless of any voting irregularities. Or, if Raffi had started earlier to develop support, give public statements, and make connections before official campaigning, we might have been able to force a run off.

        It boggles me that Heritage hasn’t already decided on who they’re going to run in the Yerevan election and start vetting him to the public. No opposition party is going to win without giving the public time to get to know and trust their candidate.

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