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Regrouping in Opposition Camp: Who Joins Whom?

Interesting developments in the Armenian opposition camp:

First Levon Ter-Petrossian declared during his Vanadzor rally, that he had full-fledged reasons to state that Arthur Baghdasaryan and Raffi Hovhannisyan were going to join him.

Then, during his Yerevan rally, talking about the possibility to join the other oppositional candidates, Artur Baghdasaryan informed that negotiations were in process and declared, “Time and negotiations will show who is going to join but I think that today it will be an honor for any politician to join us and to join these thousands of people.” “Tomorrow Levon Ter-Petrossian and Raffi Hovhannisyan are going to join this gathering – all those people that want to live in a free, fair country. It is not important who will join whom. However, joining is very important,”

Following that, Raffi Hovhannisyan has said that Armenia needs a big and long-term unification, and not a short one. Heritage goes on communicating with all the four candidates, theoretically considering any option possible. The decision will be made by the party. “Our wish is that the main oppositional candidates should come out of the area of public speaking and be involved in rough, cold-blooded, serious judging that are going to be critical for Armenia,” Raffi Hovhannisyan has said. Heritage will express its final position on supporting a certain candidate by the end of the week.

Now one last thing – in his interview to Echannel.am, Vazgen Manukyan also was not excluding the possibility of forming a serious force with Raffi Hovhannisyan and Vahan Hovhannisyan. According to him, negotiations were going on around that unification. Yesterday it became clear that Vazgen Manukyan and Vahan Hovhannisyan were not going to get united, although, as Vazgen Manukyan put it, “No negotiations could be considered closed until February 9.”

By Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant

7 replies on “Regrouping in Opposition Camp: Who Joins Whom?”

If my little theory about great support from foreign forces to LTP’s presidential bid is true, anyone thinking about politics seriously will group with him. I can see Vahan Hovhanissyan doing it, I can see Arthur Baghdasaryan doing that as well,as these are politicians with future as well as close ties with Europe and America, but Vazgen Manukyan is probably going to stay apart from this little party and thus end his political career alltogether, which he should have done a long time ago, after letting his nation down so much in 1996.

Dashnaks? Well, the rest of your argument I can understand, especially if Ter-Petrossian convinces them he really will step down after 3-5 years to make way for truly free and fair democratic elections. Artur is young and can wait a little longer before trying again, and Raffi will be able to run in 2012. What they need is a level playing field, but I wonder, the hope is there about introducing democratic elections into Armenia, but can they actually be held regardless of who is in power?
They weren’t in 1996, 1998, and 2003. Armenia might not be Azerbaijan, but even in Georgia we can see the problem also extends to a lack of democratic tradition and culture among the electorate. Still, it doesn’t matter who is the united opposition figure, in my opinion. Ter-Petrossian, Baghdasarian and Hovannisian together would represent such a wide spectrum of society that the whole dynamics of protesting flawed elections would be different than before.
How that unity is achieved is another matter. Before the election, or after? Remember, that even if the forces are not united in terms of a common candidate they will be in terms of protesting a rigged first round. That might be enough to at the very least allow the main opposition candidate to be identified from the number of votes truly cast. Perhaps in a sense, even without a common candidate, what we are seeing is this coalition standing up for democracy not in terms of who gets what in the first round, but actually making sure the candidates get the right number of votes.
If that were to happen, I don’t think it would matter who among them wins. It would, however, set a marvelous precedent. Who knows? Even this whole debate over a common opposition candidate is already part of a higher and evolved form of democratic process. It’s a process after all that requires everyone to be part of and democratic forces can not come to power if they themselves are undemocratic. Like I said, perhaps this whole process re. Ter-Petrossian-Baghdasarian-Hovannisian is actually very encouraging if the outcome is mutually acceptable to all those involved.

It appears that no matter how clean the elections are, if Levon doesn’t make it to the second round, he is going to cry foul. Serj does seem to have enough leverage to make to second round with use of administrative resources but certainly not to win in first round, nor win in second round in my opinion if elections are clean. However, i fear that if ARF or Orinats Yergir make to second round, even with reasonably clean elections, Levon and his supporters are going to be protesting. ARF received almost twice more votes in 07 parliament elections than did Orinats Yergir. So the question now is where will the votes of Heritage, Prosperous Armenia and the rest of the minor parties that are not sympathetic to Levon nor Serj, go? It seems to me, if not illegaly influenced, most of those votes will either go to ARF or Orinats Yergir. Levon’s base of supporters seems to be smaller compared with ARF and Orinats Yergir as typically the radically marginalized part of society in Armenia such as those in extreme poverty, uneducated, and some senior citizens and are supporting Levon.

Well, I don’t know if I agree with the idea that ARF-D have a stronger support base, but I agree with the general premise otherwise. That is, whether they got enough votes or not, Ter-Petrossian will be protesting on 20 February if the outcome is not to his pleasing. Actually, I don’t believe they actually even thought about the voting process. They’ve always been thinking only of 20 February. Still, I suppose the same could be said for the other parties as well. They might choose to join if they get the right pay-off and I’m not sure ARF-D or Orinats Yerkir would be willing to admit defeat — another vital component of the democratic process.
Still, we’re forgetting another possibility. There might be every reason to demonstrate after 19 February. Plus, as long as it is with cause, it might even be necessary to in order to make sure the second round is conducted better than before. Anyway, I guess what’s the reality about this election is that there are now so many possibilities and the only objective analysis of the situation is to say we really don’t know what will be. Let’s see.

BTW: For now, I think that nobody can say anything until 9 February which is the deadline for a candidate withdrawing from the race and others such as Heritage decide who or who not to support. Interestingly, I’m told Levon Ter-Petrossian has a Central Yerevan rally planned for 9 February, but I don’t know if that’s for sure as I haven’t seen any official confirmation.
Of course, I’m also not going to consider he’s going to use it to withdraw from the race, but if it is true, it is interesting timing, and potentially an occasion I suppose he hopes others might join him for. On the other hand, if there was an alliance between Heritage and others — either ARF-D and another — or OYP and another, I don’t consider that Levon is likely to make it into a second round. He needs their support and even if he takes to the streets without them, I don’t suppose society will back him up.
There will just be lots of violence and I suppose Archuk’s theory would be put to the test. After 10 years of not saying one thing about the situation in the country he now says he hates so much, Archuk asks on his blog, “Who woke up Levon Ter-Petrossian”
http://arshakuni.blogspot.com/2008/02/who-woke-up-levon-ter-petrosyan.html
Good question.

Unzipped has now posted details. Ter-Petrossian will be holding what they are calling a “decisive rally” on 9 February 3pm, deadline for withdrawing from the race. Hard to say what’s planned, although from past experience Ter-Petrossian has always struck first in an effort to convince the population there is no other candidate.
He’s actually a master at staging such events before others do and manipulating coverage. However, if Heritage makes up its mind and supports him then yes, it is a decisive rally. If not, and Heritage support another candidate or remains neutral, then it’s still as open as it ever was. If Heritage support Artur or Vahan, it’s all over for Levon. None of the candidates have enough support on their own.
Regardless, one supposes we’ll be playing “lets see how many people we can get into Liberty Square for the cameras” again.
This is especially true as Ter-Petrossian’s rallies look positively lifeless and dull (and not as large) when compared to Baghdasarian’s at the weekend. Of course, in both cases, they were reliant on people from outside Yerevan to swell numbers. However, the type of crowd (age, gender) as well as energy was more promising at Baghdasarian’s. Now it’s up to Ter-Petrossian to play catch-up.
Of course, having Baghdasarian and Raffi on stage with him would be a crowning glory, but will it happen? Let’s see, although I suppose Heritage would have to hold a vote to determine who the party will support. Does anybody know if and when one is being held?

Who knows Onnik? They did have a meeting after all. ARF doesn’t neccessarily have to openly support LTP. Maybe their part is just playing along a proccess they’ve been told is going to take place anyway and they can either join in some way or stay out and be declared out of law again.

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