Interview with ethnographer Hranush Kharatyan on election developments
You have spoken about the deep political marsh and the society’s disappointment with the elections for many times in these four years. What do you think about the current election processes?
There is no surprise and almost no competition, not taking into account, of course, (I personally don’t) the weak, uncertain situation around the PAP and ANC talks. Let’s not call it a deal, only talks which cause a feeling of uncertainty and panic. There are no other election-related developments besides this.
What panic do you mean?
Panic has two meanings. Evidently, the ANC has missed the chance and the prospect to form radical opposition. For two years, there has been so much uncertainty in the political field about the ANC that people stopped considering the ANC opposition and started guessing whether the government will appoint ANC members to certain positions. If four years ago, up to last autumn, I was sure that the ANC would win 10-15 seats on its own and would be a serious rival to the authorities, now I keep thinking how many seats the government will give the ANC. In these conditions, the ANC-PAP union also displays the absence of an intensive and radical opposition in Armenia. Prosperous Armenia cannot be opposition, it wants to strengthen its foothold and conquer the political field.
What is the reason of the Congress’ failure?
I think the serious oscillation happened in the period of signing of the Armenian-Turkish protocols. The ANC did not oppose radically, supporting Serzh Sargsyan to sign the protocols. There everything started not because the ANC agreed with the authorities but because it was about the Armenian and Turkish relations a sensitive topic which matured during Ter-Petrosyan’s tenure. So, at that point, the ANC agreed with the authorities on such an important foreign political issue. Moreover, I see that there was a demand for a clear assessment and analyses of the government’s activities (I would not like to use the word “crime” but it was a criminal act, I mean a well-thought out one against the society), but it was never done except for the poor statement by Hrant Bagratyan which was uncertain. Bagratyan’s analysis of the government’s economic policy is grounded but I have always been sure that the roots of the present situation were laid during the tenure of the first president.
Everyone says the parliament of that period differed from our parliament in terms of its quality, intellect, freedom of speech and so on.
Before 1996, despite the war when life in the country was objectively difficult plus the subjective political conditions, what could be called a newly-formed economic system collapsed, and the understanding “you are my brother, you are my friend, the country is yours, go and reign” was established which, unfortunately, still exists and suffocates the economic initiative. The key issues were set during the rule of the Supreme Council which had a liberal, democratic and devoted parliament. The members of the first parliament of Armenia were people who knew what they wanted but they had no experience and the situation was uncertain since they didn’t know how to work. There wasn’t the balance between what they knew they wanted and how to do in the second parliament. But the issue of knowing what they want is the main direction of activities of the next parliaments. I’m a parliamentary member and I come here to resolve my own problems. It is especially evident from the interviews of parliamentary candidates. They say they know what to do but they might as well have done it outside the parliament. Why do they want to enter the parliament? Do they have a political program and a political orientation?