The Parliamentary election is over. Preliminary results indicate that four lists passed the minimal threshold and made it into Parliament. The ruling Republican Party, together with businessman Gagik Tsarukyan’s alliance received 77 percent of the vote. The Dashnaktsutyun passed the five percent threshold, and Nikol Pashinyan’s Yelk (alliance of several parties) passed the higher seven percent mark required of alliances.
In a country where the poverty rate is 30 percent – that is, one in three people is poor – and the party in power receives half the votes cast – either fairly or not-so-fairly – that’s a sign that something is not right in that country. In this case, Armenia is that country.
In the nine years since 2008 that Serzh Sargsyan and the Republican Party have ruled, 350,000 people have emigrated, and yet, that did not stop the incumbents from receiving the highest percentage of votes cast in any election in Armenia’s history.
Armenia’s foreign debt has tripled since 2008 and reached $6 billion. That means that each day of Sargsyan’s and the Republicans’ rule, Armenia has gone $1.2 million deeper into debt. Yet, again, the Republicans have received an incredible and unprecedented percentage of the votes.
It would be impossible to imagine such a scenario in a normal, democratic country.
The April war did not seem to have any effect on the outcome of the elections, either. The loss of life and territory, the abuse of power within the military – it would seem they should have had some impact. It turned out that those too were not consequential. Or they were, but in the Republicans’ favor.
On April 2, the Republicans celebrated a victory. But it’s a pyrrhic victory. Actually, it is more like a victory of the Republican party over Armenia and the Armenian people.
Each election awakens new hope. But with this election, hopes and expectations were shot down, once again.
If there were to be an economic miracle or if the country chooses to go down the path of justice, only then will it be possible to prevent a new wave of emigration. Otherwise, in the years to come Armenia will continue to hemorrhage and lose that which is most valuable – its citizens, who are moved to emigrate because of their hopelessness and the cynicism of the rulers.
Some people, completely exasperated by Sargsyan and his government, were waiting for change. But April 2 came to reinforce the decision made much earlier that Serzh Sargsyan would not leave the seat of power.
There was a time when some people were exasperated by Levon Ter Petrossian and the ruling Armenian National Movement. Ter Petrossian’s departure inspired hope for positive change. Whether that positive change came or not is less important than the fact that there was new hope for such positive change.
The same is true following Robert Kocharian’s departure. Kocharian’s 10 years in office and their impact is another story. That’s a long discussion. What is important is that Kocharian too left, or was forced to leave.
The misfortune awaiting Armenia, the Armenian people and Armenia’s political system is that after ruling for 10 years, Sargsyan may stay for another 10. And with it will come a series of undesirable consequences: emigration, deepening political and economic monopolies, a collapsing economy, corruption and impunity.
Pictured: Serzh Sargsyan and his wife Rita Sargsyan in the polling station