Big challanges to be faced by the new coalition government

Five out of seventeen ministerial posts have already been appointed, only two of which are new faces:   Foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian, former ambassador to France, and Defense minister Seyran Ohanian, the former head of armed forces. Three ministers retained the positions they held in the outgoing government. Gevorg Danielian (Republican Party) will stay on as justice minister, while Armen Grigorian (Prosperous Armenia) will continue as minister of sport and youth affairs and David Lokian (Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun) as agriculture minister. Interestingly, as this ArmeniaNow analyses points out, despite the landslide victory achieved by the Republicans in 2007 parliamentary elections, the government formed after the elections was a coalition one.

When the non-partisan head of Central Bank Tigran Sargsyan was appointed Premier, after Serzh Sargsyan’s 53% victory, disputed as it may be, it seemed for a moment, that leaning on heavy Republican majority in Parliament and control over the executive branch, Serzh Sargsyan might attempt to form a merit based, professional government. Still, the developments are indicating the opposite. So far the weight of coalition is prevailing, and it seems more coalition appointments are to be expected.

While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I find it strange, that four political forces, with distincltly different political agendas are working in a coalition government. Moreover, with Republicans being strong enough to rule on their own, it is clear, that their political line will be dictating everything, so it looks, as though Bargavach Hayastan, ARF-Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir party won’t be able to push any of their appraches through, and have joined the government only to retain some administrative levers and ensure better life for some of their top party officials.

Meanwhile, the new government faces the challanges of strengthening its legitimacy in Armenia and restoring country’s image in the international community. “The Monitoring Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on April 17 urging the Armenian authorities to implement a number of reforms aimed at improving the situation in the country. PACE suggests launching an independent inquiry into the clashes, releasing all prisoners who did not commit crimes, amending the law on public rallies, and engaging in a dialogue with the opposition. PACE warns that, unless those conditions are met, it will consider suspending the voting rights of Armenia during its next session, which takes place in June.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)

The expected sharp rise of prices following the rise of natural gas price doesn’t help much with raising the government’s profile. Instead, it gives the opposition more facts to build their struggle – which has been generally a destructive one so far. Seems like the internal situation will remain tense over the next month or two, possibly with the influence of opposition gradually declining, although – if the government keeps the policies observed over the past week – price-rises, which should have been avoided at all costs in this tentative and tense political period, we might just as well see the opposite.

No changes are expected in the foreign policy sphere either. “In his first major foreign-policy speech on April 16, Armenia’s president was uncompromising. “Azerbaijan must understand the simple reality that the existence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is irreversible,”Sarkisian said. “The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have won their right to a free and independent life. And through our efforts, that right must be recognized by the international community.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)

For all the optimists out there – gather as much of it as you can, ‘couse looks like you will badly need it.

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22 thoughts on “Big challanges to be faced by the new coalition government

  1. Sometimes opposition doesn’t even know what it wants.Whatever the governement does the opposition will always complain. It is the nature of opposition. It is the rule of politics.

    What if LTP won the election. How many political parties other than HHSH would have been sharing the government? Probably none as we have already seen during the LTP’s rule. It reminds me the soviet totalitarian, one-party rule.

  2. If the government was made up of members of Republican Party, Armenianow (and others) would be complaining that it doesn’t give room to others. Now they are complaining that there are other parties in the government. Go figure…

  3. The role of media is to serve as a watchdog – at least in a democracy. And actually, ArmeniaNow wasn’t complaining – it is mostly me guilty of that deadly crime :-D

  4. If a party has a majority in the parliament then it has no need to have a coalition government. It’s not a soviet style rule, just normal politics. The coalition we have in Armenia is bizarre and illogical. It’s just a tool to make sure that the coalition partner ‘parties’ have access to the juicy perks of being part of a corrupt governance system.

    The soviet style rule (you can call it totalitarian or authoritarian regime, dictatorship, whatever you want) is the impossibility of changing the executive and legislative branches through elections; which is what’s currently the reality in Armenia.

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  6. Observer,

    […] For all the optimists out there – gather as much of it as you can, ‘couse looks like you will badly need it. […]

    Are you referring to a discussion elsewhere in your blog on optimism? Well my optimism has always been lets wait and see what they do and then respond. But there has also been a different side to the optimism expressed in various parts of your blog. It was more along the lines of, ok suppose the government consists of bunch of idiots, are we doing anything to change the situation? People can change things internally. If they form a third front then things will inevitable move towards the right direction. But people submit to this or that political force and that is why we got what we got. I don’t know whose job it is to stir people out of dirty politics and towards more independence , but certainly no one has taken the initiative.

  7. We should recognoze Kurdistan in Iraq ……LETS SEE IS THAT DOSENT MAKE THINGS DIFICULT IN IRAQ FOR USA ?

  8. Here’s the government that some blogers urge us to “wait and see what they do”. For others, however, a quick glance on its composition is enough to understand what such a government can possibly do. Eleven (!) out of the seventeen cabinet members occupied the same positions in the previous government including infamous Armenchik. Out of five new members, two represent Serj-controlled Orinats Yerkir and cannot be considered novelty.

    Serj to university students in March: “There will be changes which many people do not expect,” he said. “Unexpected” they are. . . Indeed.

  9. AKhach what did you expect? Pls name one individual who you think should be in the government composition who isn’t. Note, I am not saying that these are the most qualified 17; I am just curious who is more so.

  10. AH: You know what your problem (actually problemS) seems to be? Some intellectuals like you, because of certain personality complexes or good sense limitations (I think I should be quick to assert that virtually all of us have them, although to a different extent and in different denominations) suffer from localism and a lack of sophistication or perspective. They belong to this specific category of people who are guided by a superficial technical rationalism when evaluating events, human behavior, or surroundings at large.

    Questions like “who else should be in the government who isn’t” or “who in the government is more qualified”, etc., testify to the fact. If this category of people could be worldly, with open-minded attitude, modern in thinking, and with a sense of the bigger picture, these questions of yours would have sounded differently. For instance, “who else this unelected government, which cannot reflect on interests of the state at least at the level of preoccupation with personal interests could appoint, if not the like-minded bureaucrats” or “how on earth a more qualified person could possibly come into sight in such a government if the same government has gotten rid of sophisticated urban generalists because of the self-doubt exhibited in a fear for the qualities of such generalists,” etc.

    If we follow the notion of “reason-consequence ratio,” we’d understand that it sounds, mildly put, cynical to elaborate on a consequence (government “as-we-have-it”, its nominations “as-we-have-them”, its workings “wait-and-see”, etc.) without exploring a reason, among others, that the same government has been instrumental in creating (feeble political culture, degeneration of values, absence of civil society, explicit provincialism of rulers, handful of intelligentsia remained as a result of forced immigration who could move the nation forward, etc.). And when we explore and admit the reason, I’m sure there’ll be no rhetorical questions like “what did you expect?” Well, I’d at least expect to see intellectuals like you to voice concerns about the reasons as to why the nation keeps having unelected, narrow-minded governments throughout their independence, and not conform yourself to the post factum consequences that you invite others to admit. To admit that we have what we have, to some degree means to approve what we have. And this is exactly what I don’t want to expect.

  11. Akhach, can you please not touch one’s personality. I think it is unethical.

    Needles to say, I completely disagree with the substantial points of your post. What has been asked to you and the people who think like you is to describe the alternative possible world that we might of had if the events of the recent weeks went in a way that you approve. The question remains by in large unanswered. Therefore, one has no choice but to deal with this pack in a constructive way. If your argument is that the other world would bring prosperity , then you need to do a lot of convincing to a lot of people. I for one don’t believe that had Levon and co succeeded we would of had a better world. When one refuses to use critical negative mean spirited words while talking to the opponent, it by no means should be considered as a sing of approval of the opponents actions. Please, spend sometime to understand the roots of the disagreement. It has nothing to do with anyones personality. It is a disagreement between approaches on how to move on from what happened. Should we fight against this pack in a constructive way or should we continue the fight using the strategy put forward by Levon’s camp?

    Having concerns about why the nation keeps having unelected governments is something that has been happening since March 1st. The question is then, by the way asked by AH, what are we doing to change this situation? Maybe you joined in late, but if you search through various posts you will see this question popping up many times. It is a great question, because as your comment suggests it is the people’s fault that we keep having unelected governments. After acknowledging this, one can only ask the very same question that AH has asked many times. It is how you answer that question that makes AH different from you (but I still don’t understand your point).

    Please, refrain from virtual psycho-analysis. You can explain your case, and I for one would love to read and understand what you are proposing.

  12. Akhach – Thanks for the free shrink-session, but with all due respect (I mean it), psycho-babble doesn’t help much. I may be nuts, small-minded or whatnot, but the question is the same:

    What is a better alternative? I happen to agree with your point that the government has created (I would say not done enough to prevent) “feeble political culture, degeneration of values, absence of civil society, explicit provincialism of rulers, handful of intelligentsia remained as a result of forced immigration who could move the nation forward, etc.”

    This situation has plagued our nation for decades, if not longer. So, what next? Demonstrate incisive eye-popping psychoanalytical skills and linguistic facility in our 3rd language or pretend to be Freud? I meant it honestly: what did you expect? At what point in the process (of the last 3 months? 3 years? 17 years?) did you expect something to go drastically differently in terms of self-governance?

    And since when (or more precisely, how) is Armenia supposed to rise up and meet your lofty standards? Who among us is working toward that goal? Sadly, too few of the parlor revolutionaries (armchair quarterbacks, Tivo public servants, take your pick) are ready to get involved, run for parliament, lobby their parties, or do whatever it takes to get the REALITY one step closer to the DREAM. (If those are too unrealistic/overambitious, we are all welcome to pick up trash, fix up a rural school, create 5 jobs, etc)

  13. I wish you the best of luck in dealing with this pack in a constructive way. Make sure, however, that they understand the term “constructive” before you get started. I also take it that for unselective people like you it won’t make any difference which pack you’re dealing with in a constructive way. Therefore, please direct your constructivism to Levon’s pack as well, because capable, productive opposition is no less, and I’d say far more, important than a pack of unelected rulers. For principled people like you, it shouldn’t make a difference, should it?

  14. Akhach, please don’t make it sound emotional. Some have been begging the opposition led by Levon to talk straight with no insults and etc so that it will be possible to understand what they are saying. Every time I try to read what Levon is proposing I get lost in the ocean of insults. I even stopped reading A1+ because it makes no sense anymore. Why is it not possible to articulate those ideas in a way that we can makes sense of what he is saying? By the way this is a constructive criticism, I am willing to listen Levon’s people, but I cannot stand their dramatizations of the situation as if he himself wasn’t the mastermind behind all of our problems. Show me one pro-Levon blog or news agency that doesn’t depict him as a king and savior of our nation, but rather presents his case. I would love to go and read his ideas, but no matter how many times one asks for civilized presentation of his ideas, one never gets any response. If you know the places where it is possible to read about his ideas and see what he is saying without getting lost in a sea of insults then please do tell me where this place is.

  15. I think the problem is that politics on both sides of the divide — radical opposition and government — has become based on arrogance, self-righteousness, and the lack of ideas or policies, plus the inability to present anything different. This is why the level of debate and discussion has descended into such a low standard of personal abuse, intimidation and threats. Probably this is also the reason why the country is in the situation it is in at present — and one that has been made doubly worse by the fact that rather than push for democratic elections, elements among civil society and the media took sides instead of fulfilling their proper function.

    Anyway, we had two sides of the same coin — both the creation and result of the same system — battle it out in ways that were far from democratic and which really highlighted the political crisis Armenia has been suffering since 1996. Now, we know the problems, but what are the solutions? In my opinion, it is not dependent on which individual is president (especially as both have falsified elections and crushed or imprisoned opponents), it is about gradual reform of the system. civic education and making sure the necessary checks and balances are in place.

    Easier said than done, I know, but while I dislike the government Armenia has, I do not see any hope for change in the radical opposition. What we need instead is a genuine pro-democracy movement free from partisan politics, but for now at least, I just don’t see where that will come from. I do hope, however, that when it does emerge it will do so because it is sick and tired of the games being played with the country’s future by both the government and the opposition. Enough is enough, I say, but I suppose few would agree.

  16. Exactly. If a concerned citizen chooses to deal with pocket-oriented, one-dimensional rulers in a constructive way, than for the sake of civil society advancement it is imperative to deal in the same way with the power-hungry, arrogant opposition. Until the appropriate time and favorable consequences come for anything new than what we have. I’m afraid, however, that with such a velocity of “transformation” neither us nor our children will see a better Armenia. I hope to be wrong.

  17. well, I am definitely in that few who would agree. It is actually not clear if discussions such as this one in such places as Observer’s blog help anyone either. Few who are moderate are almost universally misunderstood and those who are on the sides make no sense whatsoever. It is really strange that the society doesn’t tolerate moderates. It seems like those on Levon’s side wouldn’t listen to anything that you might want to say unless you include nasty adjectives describing the government. Call them sons of…. you suddenly become respected by Levons people. Those on the other side do exactly the same the other way around. Call Levon a son of a … you become a respected by Serj people. Just where all this is going is a mystery and probably we should all just stop. Too soon discussions diverge from the topic and get into why certain negative adjectives aren’t being used while referring to certain politicians. Well anyway it seems we are beating water here and I’ll try to stay away from this discussions from now on. It is perhaps not even fair to Observer that such pointless low level discussion are taking place in his blog, which is one of the best there is.

  18. Well, Grigor, let us show to the opposing sides in our political establishment to which, as I understand, neither you nor I belong, that Armenians can come to understanding and forgiveness even within the narrow framework of a blog, for the sake of domestic tranquility and better future for Armenia. I hereby apologize if some of my comments, which I‘ve never meant to be offensive, nonetheless looked offensive to you or the like-minded blogers. I am by no means an admirer of any of these gangs, and am sorry that the discussion has taken such a nasty turn.

  19. AKhach

    No need to apologize to me, you didn’t insult me or anything. It just would be better if we never get personal or have psycho analysis of anyone. if you have joined late to this discussions you probably have missed the low level comments we were getting from the two camps. When you start arguing with them in a civilized way the new comers start blaming you in “defending the gechis” or “showing groundless optimism” and etc. It would just be much nicer of everyone if we don’t prejudge each other and if we don’t understand somebodies comment then just ask for an explanation. This is a hard form of communication and a lot of times points are just being misunderstood.

    On the bright side, I just read this article.

    http://www.echannel.am/?topic_id=1794&PHPSESSID=168ecdb2344aa46899b5aab1b4bca0db

    It is really nice to know that there are people like her in Armenia. If there are groups discussing the possibility of non-political movement (this is probably an exaggeration of the points she made) then it will emerge sooner or later. Hopefully sooner. So Onnik there is at least this much that is happening in the direction of non-partisan movement.

  20. Grigor – re your point about the discussions in the small blogging community. I must say, that with blogs, it is usually less then 10% of readers, who will ever comment. However, many people read my blog just to read comments that you guys are writing. There are at least two people, who are emailing me (instead of commenting on the blog), and telling me their opinion about disucssions, etc once in a while. There are also people, who don’t comment, because their English is good for reading, but not that good for commenting, and they will usually get in touch with me via ICQ or call or discussions in person, and they will always reflect on various points of views sounded here, etc. etc.

    What I’m trying to say is, that although the number of people who are commenting is really small, there are at least around 200 dedicated readers (and many more readers, who will visit the blog once in a while), and the discussions we have here, or at Unzipped or at Onnik’s blogs have in reality a much wider audience.

    Moreover, I have always been of the opinion, that even if it is just ‘beating water’ – discussions are a useful thing in any circumstance. You learn so many useful things via them, and you find out unexpected aspects of issues discussed, even if they do not contribute in any way to the constructive debate.

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