Predictable politics and apathetic youth

A lot of things happening in the political landscape of Armenia are anticipated and predictable “by journalists and people on the street alike”, Notes from Hairenik speculates, building up his speculations around the fact, that this predictability in the Armenian politics leads to apathy, as people do not see their vote as a decisive factor in bringing change to the country:

When politics is predictable, apathy abound. Supposedly we just have to take things as they are reported by the Armenian media or by word of mouth. There’s nothing else to be done except to let it happen, at least that is the vibe I have been getting.

The blogger insists, that Armenian citizens are the ones to determine the course of the elections. Still in another post here, Notes from Hairenik quotes The Armenian Weekly newspaper on the topic of political apathy, especially among the Armenian youth:

Indeed, the trend of people in their twenties is to leave, mostly because of the common belief that “Armenia is not a country” or that “there’s nothing here” to keep them. … Even if someone does have a well-paying job, for instance as a software programmer, leaving the country is nearly always considered a better option.

Still, the blogger is optimistic, and the youth movement Sksela which has been covered extensively in the Armenian blogosphere has a lot to do with the fact it seems:

However, this is not entirely the case. Although they are a minority, some youth are clearly trying to become involved in civil society and build the democratic process. And they are trying to get the message out to those who are for the most part unaware.

Interestingly, EurasiaNet has recently published Onnik Krikoryan’s article on Sksel a and attempts to target youth in Armenia by political parties such as Prosperous Armenia. Bekaisa has reposted the whole article in her blog, and in another post here has addressed some of the questions raised by Onnik Krikoryan’s article:

Youth in newspaper hats stand on street corners and read aloud from Armenian dailies. Masked young people march by parliament yelling “Don’t Eat Too Much!” at deputies. It’s election season in Armenia, and with the parliamentary vote just over a month away, one unconventional youth group is waging weekly war on widespread political apathy.

9 thoughts on “Predictable politics and apathetic youth

  1. Reply

    […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptA lot of things happening in the political landscape of Armenia are anticipated and predictable “by journalists and people on the street alike”, Notes from Hairenik speculates, building up his speculations around the fact, … […]

  2. Reply

    […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptA lot of things happening in the political landscape of Armenia are anticipated and predictable “by journalists and people on the street alike”, Notes from Hairenik speculates, building up his speculations around the fact, … […]

  3. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 09.04.2007

    I would hardly call Sksela famous. I would imagine that 99.9 percent of Armenians, including youth, don’t know who they are, and of those that do, most knew many of its members beforehand anyway, hence the fact that attendance has hovered around the 200 figure for the past few events.
    Doesn’t negate anything positive (or negative) about Sksela, but really, let’s call it as it is. It’s an attempt to start a youth movement in a country where most don’t care, and where question marks still hang over who exactly turns up at a Sksel a event and why, which we’re still not sure will turn into anything.
    Let’s see, but I think that at times of elections we shouldn’t really be adding such descriptions to parties or movements unless they’re true, and in this case, they most certainly are not. For example, Notes from Hairenik attended the Sksel a event because I informed Garo (aka Christian Garbis) about it.
    As I said, most Armenians don’t know who or what is Sksel a, and as many don’t care. So, at least the use of the word “apathy” is right on the mark.

  4. Reply
    Observer - 09.04.2007

    Onnik, you are right and I’ve adjusted the text correspondingly. My perceptions of Armenia in the last 3 months has been based mostly on the Armenian newspapers and blogosphere, hence I admit, that I might have a somewhat distorted view of the reality. 🙂

  5. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 09.04.2007

    I wish Sksel a would use one uniform platform online. I mean, you can have the same content as the non-dynamic web site on a blog, plus benefit from all the advantages and feature that a blog can offer. More than that, you can unify and lesson efforts rather than exhaust more energy on a multiple attempts that won’t be as effective as one blog on its own. Well, that’s my opinion and experience anyway.

  6. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 09.04.2007

    Incidentally, talking of Sksel a, the Executive Director of Mjaft! (Enough!), an Albanian Youth Movement apparently influenced by Otpor! (Resistance!) in Serbia according to Wikipedia. Anyway, he’s apparently here for three days on the invitation of the Center for Regional Development / Transparency Internation to help Sksel a.
    Interestingly, it’s all in the open and when I met him on Saturday at Stop Club he was in the company of not only Sksel, but also the Political Officer of the British Embassy. Definitely, there’s now a focus on engaging youth in Armenia, but we appear to have two different approaches taking shape.
    That is, engagement of youth regardless of where their sympathies lie — i.e. with the Government or opposition, it doesn’t matter, democracy and the right to choose does — and more radical engagement in the form of protest demonstrations which Sksel a has been doing for ages albeit informally.
    Of course, the only problem is that youth are really apathetic here and I think don’t care for such things when there are more “important” issues such as the fashion, mobile phones and cafes to think about, but one thing that the Mjaft guy said about this was interesting. That is, the situation was the same in Albania, but they managed to change it.
    Let’s see. Meanwhile, looking at the Mjaft! web site, it seems quite impressive. Recipient of the 2004 UN Award for Civil Society, apparently, and supported by U.S., U.K. Embassies, among others. Nice website and logo too, but no blog from what I can see.

  7. Reply
    Observer - 09.04.2007

    When I look at our young people these days (and when I look at myself, as a typical representative), my heart sinks: apathetic, passive, isolationist, and worst of all – every single one of them dreaming of an escape from this country. We can’t build a country with this type of attitude and with the type of young people we have at this point.
    Something must be done. Sksela, Nikol Aghbalyan union, Baze – everything is better then nothing at all.
    I like to think, that generally Armenians are a very much a value based society: things like sense of belonging, honor, friendship still mean a lot to us vs. many highly advanced western societies where individual freedom and material well being are the prevailing values.
    The ruling elite in Armenia have been doing an excellent job of exploiting these aspects of the Armenian mentality, especially the “sense of belonging” aspect, for retaining power. Movements mentioned above (ie. sksela, baze, hhk youth organization, orinats yerkir youth branch, etc.) are another way of using those Asian attitudes and trying to motivate young people in a different way. I don’t see anything wrong with the fact, that Sksela is associated with English speaking youth and foreigners, and I don’t see anything wrong with the fact, that Baze is associated with the name of Kocharian. Even the pro-government Baze has indeed contributed greatly to motivating many young people. However, lack of any youth activity is what scares me most. Young people are our future. All hope of this country is associated with them – and I believe in young people. I believe, that if they are motivated in one way or another, they will find their own way around, and it doesn’t matter which side of the political landscape they will join in: pro-government, opposition or middle ground – democracy is about individual choice after all, isn’t it.

  8. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 09.04.2007

    Observer, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it’s wrong that Sksel a is associated with English-speakers, just that some of the young people that attend do so because it’s an opportunity to practise their language skills rather than become engaged in civil society building in Armenia. This is one of the unknowns about Sksela and whether they can get those young people to dig deeper than just say, attending a free concert or being able to chat with a foreigner.
    Otherwise, your points about youth all noted. Let’s hope that they can somehow be engaged by any organization and actually, many of them — pro-governmental, pro-opposition or preferably neutral. This is the test for the whole country, perhaps.

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