Levon Ter-Petrossian Ahead of Everybody Again, with an Above-Average Political Manifesto

On January 6, 2008 RA Presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian published his political manifesto, thus becoming the first candidate running for the 2008 February Presidential elections to publish his program. Let me remind everybody, that at this point the leading Republican candidate Serge Sargsyan has only clarified his motto, which will be “Forward, Armenia”, and Dashnaktsutyun have started a PR campaign with fictional “contracts” being signed with citizens (68,000 of which, according to RFE/RL have already been signed with citizens), containing some basic programmatic directives.
Coming back to the pioneering candidate – LTP’s program, as Nazarian kindly informed everybody, “You can read it all at the official website for “Levon for president” campaign. The unofficial site also has a PDF version of it.”

Ter-Petrossian has started out the document with a 1 page criticism of the usual practice of “writing manifestos using indefinite terms” and unverifiable sets of objectives. 5 pages of the 16 page document contain concrete programmatic steps on 1) Internal Political Sphere, 2) Foreign Policy, 3) Restoration of Rule of Law 4) Economic Sphere 5) Social Sphere.
1) The Internal Political section is very much declarative, without clear explanation, of how Ter-Petrossian is going to “establish adequate democracy”, which he wasn’t able to do during his past 8 year rule, or how will he improve the “multi-party system and parliamentarism”, when he himself was the first to forbid a party and set up a constitution, which did everything to take power away from Parliament and give it to the President – Levon Ter-Petrossian instead.
Two things I liked however, was the clear intention of cutting the scope of the state and strengthening the civil society.
2) Foreign Policy – is very vague, despite many are speaking about Ter-Petrossian’s pro-Turkish policy and readiness to surrender Karabakh, nothing in his program indicates that, as if the candidate has deliberately avoided going deep into the issue. In fact what he is saying is currently being implemented by the incumbent Kocharian-Sargsyan duo.
3) Restoration of Rule of Law – the title is funny, to say the least, especially considering Ter-Petrossian’s legacy, with infamous Vano Siradeghyan, Minister of Interior, sitting high above the law and sponsoring oligarchs, who are oligarchs today, and proudly parade alongside Levon. This section is clearly targeted towards the electorate of Artur Baghdasaryan’s “Rule of Law” party, speaking about the return of bank savings of soviet times at a better rate, than the “Rule of Law” party was able to achieve with the law adopted in 2005. There is also a special stress on uncovering the events of October 27, 1999. Generally, this is perhaps the weakest part of the program, on the other hand, if it achieves the target of attracting some of Artur Baghdasaryan’s electorate, it might prove a very smart move, to be plagiarising like this.
The rest of this section is in fact continuation of current state policies: fight against corruption, trafficking, etc. Looking at the fact, that corrupt judge Pargev Ohanyan has voiced his support of Levon, I find it unlikely , that the voters will be tricked into believing, that Ter-Petrossian actually means what he says under this point.
4) Economic sphere – I’m not an expert, but in the age of service economy, I don’t think it is too wise to stress the importance of industrial production. On the other hand, I like the points about antimonopolism, bringing large businessmen out of the shadow, more even distribution of taxation load. Some of the concepts I didn’t understand at all – what does the “enlargement of taxation base” mean for example? That’s one of the “simple, understandable term” I guess, huh?
I also expected much more concentration of import-export dynamics, perhaps suggestions to introduce protective taxes on import. Although there is a section of supporting agriculture, I didn’t see anything else on helping the regional development, perhaps creation of tax-free economic zones in Gyumri, Vanadzor to attract economic activity into those areas. And that is a serious weakness – especially as, from what I know, LTP lacks support in Gyumri, and generally, outside Yerevan.
I also didn’t like the section about banking sphere, but, I know very little about economy to say anything worthy on this regard.
5) Social sphere – very strange mix of Conservative and Socialist practices. The populist aspects of all economic doctrines have been incorporated into this section of the program, without much though of their conditionality and logic. I guess this area has been designed with the objective of hitting ARF-Dashnaktsutyun, but also addressing the “Social Budget” presented by Serge Sargsyan and Republicans for this year.
I liked the points about cheep/free housing to young families, paying large compensations for new born children, move towards professional army, although, I do not believe, any of these points are realistic. However, these are clearly areas, which will attract young voters, unless the chasing candidates offer better deals, which they will…
The remaining 10 pages are basically – a self-justification, something like an historical excursion, a need statement and a look into modern day Armenia, with some very interesting figures about demography, and hints about large scale state sponsored machinations in the import industry and economic sphere, mentioning the fuel and sugar import on several occasions. However, the current state of affairs in Armenia is greatly understated, showing the country on the verge of collapse and describing it with the word “Tatar-Mongol Rule” – forgetting to mention that the World Bank and IMF are considering Armenia’s economic indicators quite outstanding, and are mentioning it as an example of economic success on every occasion.
Ter-Petrossian will call a press-conference on January 11, at 12:00, in Yerevan, at the “Tigran Mets” hall of the “Marriott-Armenia” hotel, discussing the candidate’s manifesto with journalists. While I think the program is something above average at this point, it will be very interesting to read press accounts of the meeting with LTP and his clarifications about program points on January 12. Let’s wait and see.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Levon is a proponent of free markets so I don’t think you will ever see him talk about protectionism and import barriers. In addition to his (and his team’s economic views), Armenia is part of the WTO and has ceilings for import duties. And remember that protectionism is a double edged sword and cuts both ways. Armenia, as a tiny country, has no clout to try to fix any issues that may result out of retaliatory measures by trading partners.
    For example, the Jermuk fiasco still lingers and Armenian mineral water exports have been halted to the US and other developed countries. The Armenian state or business circles have been unable to prove that their products are safe – I don’t know whether it’s due to lack of creativity, resources such as money or lawyers, or something else.

  2. I would like to say some words on LTP’s election campaign. I think it is built quite correctly. And the programm is the best argument for my statement. I have read the programm and think, that it is something new in our political history. This form is unique and will interest a lot of voters, especially besides the academic circles. Besides, Mr. Ter-Petrosyan wrote it in the form as the voter and Armenian citizen himself is expressing the statements of the programm.It is also very interesing and will attract another part of voters from the wide sections of the population.
    I am sure, that the programm will find it’s explanations during the upcomming press-conference on January 11 and during the campaign. As Ditord mentioned, let’s wait and see…

    325 words
    9 January 2008
    ARKA – News (Armenia)
    (c) 2008 ARKA News Agency
    YEREVAN, January 9. /ARKA/. Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian is disappointed by ex-President Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s approaches to the foreign policy, Oskanian said during the press-conference.
    “I am disappointed by ex-President’s approaches to the foreign policy that are formulated in his pre-election program. Taking into account his speeches and criticism of authorities, I expected stricter formulations, new ideas and proposals,” Oskanian said.
    He said that in the ex-President’s program there are no tracks of similar proposals. He pointed out that all the proposals formulated in the ex-President’s pre-election program have long been realized by acting authorities.
    “If Armenia’s ex-President avoided criticizing the authorities, I would not have been disappointed by the absence of new ideas in his program,” Oskanian said.
    He pointed out that all the proposals of Armenia’s ex-President about the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, which he had made during his governing, cannot even be compared to the present position of the Armenian authorities.
    Oskanian pointed out that the Karabakhi people would never agree to the proposals of Armenia’s ex-President, which he had tried to implement being the head of the country.
    “During the ruling of Ter-Petrosyan there was even no hint for the self-determination of the Karabakh people. At present Armenia conducts negotiations being guided by the right of the Karabakh people for self-determination,” Oskanian said.
    In the line of the foreign policy, in the pre-election program of Ter-Petrosyan it is mentioned that for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict it is necessary to express political will from the positions of protecting the self-determination of Armenians from Artsakh and search of variants for mutual compromises for the settlement of the Karabakh issue.
    The presidential elections in Armenia are scheduled for February 19. L.M. -0– ?? ?? ?? ??
    Document ARKA000020080109e419000jh

  4. Incidentally, I’m really interested in the opinion of people in Gyumri. While there is so much criticism that can be targetted towards Kocharian and Serzh, one thing that was done during the past 10 years was increased attention on the earthquake region. My understanding is that under LTP it was totally forgotten, including after the 1994 Karabakh ceasefire when the war can hardly be used as an excuse again. It would be interesting to know what your take is on where people in Gyumri stand.

  5. […] Armenian Observer takes a more in-depth and objective look at the pre-election campaign manifesto of the first and former president of the Republic of Armenia, Levon Ter Petrosian. Share […]

  6. Observer,
    As a person involved in the Campaign I am not allowed to open the scopes. That is why I also temporarily gave up my blog. The only thing I can tell you right now – there is very clear strategy, things are done coherently and there are plenty of things in the Campagin you’ll definitely mark as above average :).
    If you have any questions regarding the press conference, please contact Arman Musinyan by 500406 tel. number or email pressoffice /@/ levonforpresident.com
    To attend the press conference no accreditation is needed. Conference is open to everyone with journalist mandate.

  7. The day I believe a politician is the day I’ll roll over and die.

  8. Well, yeah. Elections are great everywhere with campaign promises amounting to absolutely nothing afterwards. Like I said to Observer the other day, we tend to believe that if a politician’s lips are moving it means they’re lying.
    I would imagine that’s especially the case in Armenia.

  9. I hope there is no agreement between LTP and current authorities against ARF’s candidate. As one of the insightful politician, LTP, being silence for 10 years and absolutely doing or saying nothing about all the thing that he thinks were happening in the country classifies him as a passive citizen therefore he has no right to demand the ownership of the highest office of our nation. Further, he has stated that he wants only to rule for three years. This statement must not be made by one who claims that he is the best leader to lead the nation.
    I predict, ARF’s candidate will be our next president.

  10. Discussing different points in the manifesto is probably quite interesting from an academic point of view, but does anyone really believe these manifestos mean anything? They are in place for such political romantics like, much respected by myself, Isabella to believe in their candidate and put as much effort as herself and others like her are puttin into it. Obviously young rebellions are not going to support Serzh. Whereas Levon is extremely charismatic and calls for revolution and we all love revolutions as quick ways of changing everything. Saakashvilu akanj@ kanchi!

  11. A number of students I speak to won’t vote for Levon. They consider him a return to a cold and dark past. Of course, that’s not everybody, but it’s noticeable that there were more young Armenians at Orinats Yerkir and ARF-D rallies, for example. Levon’s crowd seems to be made up traditional radical opposition supporters and this new breed of young Armenian working in civil society circles.
    However, students are another matter and I have yet to see that Levon has been able to mobilize them. Indeed, OYP and ARF-D have been more active in these areas as unfortunately has the Republican party but in another less than genuinely political or ideological way (I think). Meanwhile, I wonder how many people in Liberty Square actually give a damn about liberalism or different approaches and just want revenge on Kocharian and Serge.
    As in Georgia, this spells trouble afterwards because I suspect that as the huge mass of those in Liberty Square were men over the age of 40 and also from the regions or outlying districts of Yerevan, they’re not going to be too welcoming on any liberalism in society. I suspect that they’re actually very conservative and their hopes in Levon are merely limited to overthrowing the regime without thinking what will be afterwards.
    Still, what will be will be. However, yes, I do consider the manifestos to mean very little, and it’s interesting to note that Ter-Petrossian is becoming more populist than Baghdasarian — promising to quadruple pensions according to ArmeniaNow and releasing people from prison. Wonder if he got those pre-election campaign ideas from Saakashvili. Anyway, most important thing of all about this election — and perhaps the only matter of importance — in fact is that the conduct improves.
    Let’s see. Hopefully there won’t be clashes the day after voting day although I suspect that the amount of hate between Ter-Petrossian and Sargsyan circles makes it inevitable.

  12. Archuk – I stopped reviewing manifestos – because nobody – nobody cares about them. there’s simply no point – and it is a waste of my time 🙁

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