Armenian Parliament Elections in Figures as Seen on Armenian Blogs

March 3rd was the deadline for submitting party registration applications to the Central Electoral Commission of Armenia (CEC) in order to participate in the May 12, 2007 Parliamentary Elections. Kronstadt at ALS movement has some figures:

[…]over 1400 candidates have been registered on the Party lists alone
28 parties have entered the elections race and only 1 alliance (Impeachment).[…]

Armenia Blog quotes ArmenPress, bringing even more figures to look at:

All Armenia is divided into 926 territorial-administrative units, called communities, including 48 urban and 866 rural communities. The biggest community is the capital city Yerevan, which is said to have 1.1 million population.
The second biggest community is the town of Gyumri, the administrative center of the north-western province of Shirak. It has 147,000 population. Vanadzor, the capital of north-eastern Lori has 105,000 population.

There’s also some negative statistics at the ALS Movement:

[…]After the failure to come up with a list of candidates for the parliamentary elections, the Justice block (comprising of 9 opposition parties) has ceased to exist.
At the same time another force in Armenian politics, formerly known as [email protected] socio-political initiative, has re-branded itself as “Impichment” in just over a week after it marched across the streets of Yerevan sporting its funky “@” logo and calling itself “The Alternative”. Now, it seems, [email protected] has moderated it’s radicalism… When asked, they confirmed that they offer Ishkhanapokhutyun (a change of government), which in our view is hardly an Alternative.

The blog further expresses “a concern about the ideological direction of this movement when it comes to other issues and policies”, and touches upon the demonstration held by the Alternative on March 2 in front of Matenadaran square in Yerevan:

[…]300 or so people gathered near Matenadaran […] the absolute majority of the gathered were pensioners and people over the age of 40. There was also a small group of young ones, who apparently looked like they didn’t belong there. […]

Kornelij Glas had a semi-live photo-coverage of the event also, and the photos further come to prove the figures. Uzogh is apparently trying to collect some figures as he posts about the Virtual Parliament Elections Poll with the following suggestions / details of participation:

  • Please advertise this poll in your blogs
  • Closing date is 18th of March
  • Poll is made public to avoid cheating
  • Votes for more than 1 party from the same person will be erased from final results
  • People, who do not want to register Livejournal account, but still want to vote – must create OpenID account.

I don’t know about free and fair, but these are definitely going to be very very very interesting elections!

Uncomfortable Neighborhood: Armenian bloggers about Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Greece

“The possibility of war between the United States and Iran seems more likely by the day…”, Armenia blog reports, citing a Yerkir article about the negative influence such a war will have on Armenia. Hyelog draws reader’s attention to the US Department of Defense strategy for the Black Sea region, the main focus of which is getting individual countries in the area to develop a regional approach on security issues. Interestingly the details about US DoD strategy for the Black See region are “leaked” amid speculations on US wish to expand the surveillance and monitoring in the area by installing its new PRO radar system in the Caucasus as reported by Kornelij Glas. The blogger also notes, that Azerbaijan doesn’t want the radar, while Georgia is ready to discuss the matter. The blogger is sorry for Yerevan’s silence – it would be an interesting experiment to install the American radar next to the Russian C-300 [installed in Armenia] and watching them “surveillance” each other he says.
Ahousekeeper states his point of view on Turkey’s “definite and short-term goal to destroy Armenia“, and asks, why is it, that “ANM (HHSh) party being well informed about this situation, keep telling fairy-tales about the possibility to reconcile with Turkey and try to create a complex among Armenians, that it is because of our stubbornness that those kind-hearted turks dislike us so much.” The blogger further expands his inquiry:

The same question should be directed to many American, British and European organizations, who are so so vigorously involved in “reconcilliation” – as a result the readiness to resist is destroyed in Armenians.

Hakob Gevorgian has found the conclusions made by the ArmenianHouse editor Karen Vardanesyan [Ahousekeeper]  “very interesting” and has republished the whole post to “make it accessible to public.” Armenia blog has also paid a great deal of interest to Armenia-Turkey relations, expressing his disappointment with the possibility of a “light sentence” for Ogun Samast, who is being accused of assassinating “Agos” Armenian-Turkish bilingual weekly editor-in-chief Hrant Dink, who will most likely will escape life imprisonment according to PanArmenian. The blogger also touches on Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, asking “what’s next” as Azeri government decision for “for resettling 30,000 to 35,000 Azeris in Shahumyan, which was once home to 21,000 Armenians who were either massacred or forcibly evacuated from the region during the Nagorno-Karabakh movement” come to be known.
Speaking of Greece, another neighbor from the Black See region, Armenia blog says “Greece is a strong ally that must be kept close. Increasing trade between the two countries is a good start” as details of Greek plans to involve Armenia into its five-year economic development program are discussed by the Armenian press.

Armenian Tourism Ranks 74th Worldwide

Commercials about Armenia running on CNN International – Armenia: Noah’s Route, Your Route (Part1)
Azg article about tourism in Armenia attracted a range of comments from the Armenian blogosphere. Oneworld Multimedia reports:

[…]Armenia ranks 74th place out of 124 countries in terms of popular world tourism destinations. Georgia and Russia are the only other CIS countries doing better with positions of 66th and 68th.

The competitiveness of countries in the tourism sphere is defined by three main parameters – corresponding legislation, business are and infrastructures and human, culture and natural resources. Armenia has considerable advantage in legislation (rated 65), natural, human and culture resources (rated 62) and disadvantage in business area and infrastructures (rated 96). Armenia is attractive in sense due to high sanitary and hygiene conditions, the security of tourists and the native people’s welcome for them, as well as suitable prices.
Armenia’s competitiveness mainly suffers from visa regime with the states whose citizens go touring most frequently, problems with nature protection, lack of local air and vehicle transportation infrastructures, etc.[…]

Armenia Blog is unimpressed with the result, saying “a good start would be to offer international-friendly tours to popular destinations.” Hyelog has also looked at the issue, publishing excerpts from the Mediamax news agency (via
Interestingly the discussion on the issue at Oneworld Multimedia is going around the high costs of visiting Armenia (chello), while Nazarian looks at the weakness of the USD against Armenia’s dram and high airfare.

Armenian Blogosphere Getting Offensive on Politics

I can only approve the fact, that people have strong feelings and viewpoints on politics: this is perhaps the one and only thing that can save this country – if people start really caring about politics. With two more months to go before the elections scheduled for May 12, 2007, the Armenian blogosphere is really getting into it, with pro and con views on everything and anything happening in the political life of the country widely discussed and often criticized in the blogosphere.
Among the 50 or so blogs I’m monitoring at this point the most systemic approach to the Armenian political landscape was expressed by Narjan this week, who looks at the overall system rather then single parties and their leaders:

[…]When the opposition, free elections, etc. are mentioned in a group of people, somebody will always remember with irony the colored revolutions. Which is in a way understandable – the people, among whom the protectors of the current administration do not believe in the change of the administration without a revolution.[…]
[..]From my point of view the essence of democratic elections is not in just bringing to power people whom the majority of voters support (which in itself is a disputable principle), but in the realization by those people of constraints to their power since the ultimate authority lies not with them but with the electorate.

Sasountsi Anarchist from the ALS Movement aroused a wave of criticism by publishing this Monday a post on Armenian Republican Party (HHK). Pigh and Angel-Xiligan were among those most fiercely and tactlessly criticizing Sasountsi Anarchist (but not addressing the content of the post), being especially compelled by the fact that the latter has been disrespectful towards Garegin Njdeh, Armenia’s national hero, whose ideas on state-building are often used by the HHK to give them weight and a dimension of heritage. In his reply Sasountsi Anarchist has not stayed above the offensive tone either, generalizing and stereotyping the whole of Russophone Armenian blogosphere and classifying them all as “Reactionary” and “reflexive of exactly the type of Russian nationalist Imperialist framing which is in Russia’s and West’s best interests”.
Although rather disrespectful in the discussion mentioned above, Pigh has a more pragmatic view of the Armenian politics, expressed in an earlier post:

There is no real opposition to speak of in the country: those who are around now have discredited themselves. Nor is there a fresh, independent new force. I don’t like government either. As already mentioned somewhere before, I am lucky to be working in the rural areas of Armenia and to see directly what is happening outside Yerevan. I have chosen a different route for myself – to get through this life and help, with all available means to the people. With personal money contributions and by making sure at work, that the finances of the organization are not wasted for nothing. I don’t know what will happen next, how will it all turn out to be, but we only have this piece of land: small, stony, barren, but at the same time – beautiful and cherished. Peace to our land, piece to our people, and let all of us, despite our view, try to do at least something conscientious for Karabakh, for Armenians, for Armenia.

Uzogh says giving freedom to the opposition did the trick for government – “the task of burying the little parties has been successfully solved”, as having 70 parties for 3 million people seems “nonsense” to the blogger, who subsequently notes in his comments, that having 4-5 parties makes more sense. David_Sand however contrasts those commenting on Uzogh’s post, noting, that:

[…]Today there are three, four large parties – republican, dodists, dashnaks, and say, someone from the orange ones – OEK [Rule of Law] or MAK [United Labour Party]. Can you explain how are ideologies of republicans and dodists different[…]?

David_Sand further explores the importance of having a pluralistic “political market”, and notes, that current trend is leading to a monopoly of political offer and choices, which will ultimately result in inadequate services.

Kornelij’s Election Leaflet #3

In Election Leaflet #3 Kornelij Glas summarizes recent political developments:

1. The “Alternative” movement organized a meeting coinciding the 19th anniversary of the start of Karabakh movement. Although the rally didn’t attract a large amount of participants, the event raised a great deal of discussion on a number of blogs. The list of “Alternative” related discussions can be viewed here. Apart from the blogs, a brunch at the OA covering the topic also came back to life. The latter is especially interesting because two young activists of the movement – Hrant and Aramazd are also taking part in the discussion.

2. HHSh and AJM (Vazgen Manukyan) are negotiating about forming a pre-election block. This is one of the grotesque traits of these elections. The powers who almost came to the verge of starting a civil war in 1996 want to join forces today. This is one of the symptoms of the final breakdown of the political system in Armenia, which has completely lost any ideology. (According to my private discussions, the block will not be formed, however, the fact of negotiations in itself is self-explanatory)
3. Yet another example of complete lack of positive ideas among the political forces and concentration on the negative notion of changing power – “I fight because I fight”: “‘Democratic Fatherland’ and the Conservative party have presented an application to the CEC [Central Electoral Commission] of Armenia for registering the pre-eleciton block ‘Impeachment’”.
4. The law on dual-citizenship has been adopted. It will hardly have any impact on the upcoming elections, but might potentially become an issue of consideration for the next year’s presidential ones.

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