Recently the Armenian press has been discussing rumors that Gyumri’s Mayor Vardan Ghukasyan is not going to run in the upcoming mayoral elections. After his meeting with Hovik Abrahamyan in the National Assembly, rumors appeared that he will run but will not be supported by the Republican Party.
Ghukasyan has been elected Mayor of Gyurmi three times – in 2002, 2005 and 2008.
What has changed about the authorities who trusted Vardan for three times and once even deployed special police force to ensure his security? Why don’t they want to support him this time?
Vardan Ghukasyan used to ensure his “legitimacy” with the help of irrational mythical concepts such as dignity and honor, special status of Gyumri and his heroic past. Everyone knows Ghukasyan’s Christian quotes. This method has been used for many years in Gyumri. Vardan Ghukasyan certainly didn’t refrain from using informal election mechanisms but he, unlike his competitors in Gyumri, believed that money and administrative resource are not enough, and public legitimacy is also necessary.
Gyumri is a patriarchal and provincial city full of true and false ideas on dignity, honor, originality, etc. But Ghukasyan didn’t take into account one circumstance. The social changes in Armenia are fast, and even if he manages to supervise the economic and political fields of Gyumri, he has failed to notice the social evolution. Today, Ghukasyan’s policy, which is based on irrational and mythical values cannot bring votes. The issues of Gyumri are clear and rational which Ghukasyan will hardly be able to solve.
The other issue for Vardan Ghukasyan was Tigran Sargsyan’s joining of the Republican Party. Vardan Ghukasyan who, according to the internal division in the Republican Party, belongs to Hovik Abrahamyan’s wing, would have problems with Tigran Sargsyan’s team. With such management methods, the prime minister would not miss the chance to express dissatisfaction with Ghukasyan. Besides, the PM’s idealism regarding Gyumri’s Techno Park has always met the ambitious speculations of the mayor giving way to some competition. The attitude of the government towards Ghukasyan is ambiguous and this issue on whether to run in the elections or not may be the result of the process underway inside the party.
The reason for such an unambiguous situation relating to Ghukasyan’s steps is also the fact that being the coordinator of the RPA office in Shirak region, he actually failed the parliamentary elections being defeated by the Prosperous Armenia party.
What will happen in Gyumri if the RPA does not support Ghukasyan? Vardan Ghukasyan has several options. He will have to promise that he will do everything to ensure as many votes as possible for Serzh Sargsyan, or he will go on using dignity as his main tool. The next least possible option especially without support by the RPA and its president would be boosting money and use of administrative resource several times. For Ghukasyan it means staking all and competing with the PAP which stakes a lot too.
The situation in Gyumri is tough and the issue is not the mayoral candidates but the fact that Gyumri needs concrete solutions and proposals. It may appear as a paradox but in the context of rational issues election bribes are better than years of talking about dignity and honor, arts and crafts. Ghukasyan has failed all these issues, while the PAP prefers the other way – the super rational and practical method of cash. There is no choice. In September Gyumri will have to choose between dignity/honor and cash money. The latter seems more rational than the first option.