Hey Diaspora, it’s Election Day in Armenia on Monday, Surprise!

February 15, 2013 |  by

Guess what, it’s Election Day on Monday.  Armenia has a serious choice to make come February 18 but no one back home seems to be too interested.

I’m not a citizen and can’t really vote, but if I could, I would vote for Raffi Hovhannisian. Check out his website, Facebook page and Youtube channel to see what he’s about.

Here’s what Raffi has to say about this existential moment we face as a nation:

Raffi has been running a very progressive campaign, traveling from village to village, crisscrossing Armenia’s regions, meeting with the people, explaining his platform, and offering Armenia hope for a better tomorrow. Now you might say so what, nothing will change, the oligarchs won’t let him win, Serzh has the election in his pocket, etc, etc. We’re a cynical people. We’ve seen so much of the bad, we don’t recognize the good when it’s right there in front of us. But this time around, a lot of people see the possibility for change that Raffi brings. It’s actually very inspiring.

Watch the video below, you’ll see what I mean.

Amidst everything going on in Armenia right now, Raffi puts forth a vision for a brighter future. He’s honest, has a good background, and is generally liked by the population. Many people I’ve spoken to since arriving on Monday, have spoken of their admiration for his “noble character,” “honest campaign,” and “progressive platform,” and “genuine desire to listen to and connect with the people.”

I don’t want to talk much about the other candidates. Serzh Sargsyan represents everything that is wrong with Armenia. Paruyr Hayrikyan is our version of Ralph Nader, and the rest are artificial nobodies, holding pointless hunger-strikes, or running absurd commercials where they read from scripts for 10 minutes about nonsense. There are seven candidates running for President right now but the majority of them are artificial candidates, put forth to present the image that there is an opposition “choice” in Armenia. That’s a farse. There’s a great book out there about the topic titled, “Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World.” I packed it in a box to bring with me, but I think it’s on a boat somewhere on it’s way to Armenia right now.

Here’s a quick excerpt about the book by “Foreign Affairs” magazine:

By fair means or foul (mostly foul), regimes throughout the post-Soviet region have mastered the art of simulated democratic politics, replete with fake political parties, spectral politicians, illusory competition, and manipulated outcomes. Because real authoritarianism is not within their reach, elections do count, and so to ensure those elections go their way, those in charge resort to various exotica (“administrative measures,” “invented opposition,” “clone parties,” and the like), all plied by “political technologists.

It’s an interesting situation that’s been developing here over the years.

Anyway, I don’t want to dwell too much on the other “candidates.”

Raffi gives me hope and I want to share it with you all.

Here he is taking a bus with the people. He seems to do this all the time actually. My coworker says she’s bumped into him on the Marshutka many times, way before election season.

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I know I’ve painted a very optimistic picture here. We all know the reality on the ground. The power and level of organization the Republic party commands is overwhelming. They control the economy, and hold people’s livelihoods hostage. Threats abound, in which local oligarchs use fear to strong-arm the people of a specific community to vote for the ruling regime.  ”I don’t care who you vote for, but if Sarkisian doesn’t get at least 60% of the vote in this district, everyone is out of a job,” is something I hear very often from people, complaining about the situation. Others say, “I love Hovannisian, but I’m not going to vote for him; I just don’t think he has a chance of winning.”

It’s bleak, but we already know this. Things are bad. Democracy doesn’t exist and the people’s backs are all but broken. But there’s comes a point where you have to stop with the cynicism. There’s no point to trap ourselves in a cage of misery forever. What we need today is a positive outlook, an optimistic perspective, and a belief that our actions can and will make a difference.

Even if Monday’s vote is a foregone conclusion. The people still need to make a stand.

I’ll leave you to think over some more words from Raffi.

P.S. Diasporan media, why are you not covering these elections? Are the semantics between “Medz Yeghern” and “Genocide” really more important than the fate of the Republic of Armenia?  A tweet from my good friend Babken echoes this reality:

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