Vartan Mushegyan. Short outline on the contemporary political reforms in Armenia

Crisis of nationhood within the former Soviet republics is, undoubtedly, a retrogressive aspect from the past where authoritarism dominates with its pervasive corruption, police brutality, manual judicial system and sustainable distrust of Mass Media.
Armenia is a rather small country and a part of its territory where the nationhood was being developed is even smaller. And this process was running up in terms of economic warfare and resource-based market. Contemporary Armenian nationhood yet has not managed to get rid of a bygone soviet past, partially, because the country attained its independence when the ethnic conflict had already existed and was transforming into a military standoff (in such case – Arzah problem).
External safety threat was chaining the process of free competition, did not authorize the reforms essential for the effective development of the country. In addition, those reforms that were already carried out, became replicas of Russia’s modern development model. During privatization period a very big part of economic facilities were sold out to the families of erstwhile authorities in power for a trifling sum. During the time 85% of that property fully decayed. Separate vital economic sector was monopolized by the offhand formed oligarchy.

Armenian economy missed the mark. An immediate, big and very dolorous consequence appeared: so called labor migration. The expat community gained 30%.

Four-day war in April, 2016 in Arzah put into flatter the whole Armenian society. Thousands of Armenians were ready to defend their homeland. But the authorities rejected their help backing up by the fact that that Armenian army required only certain military experts.

In the point of fact Armenian authorities were not ready for and capable of acting efficiently in the very crucial moment. Administration crisis manifested itself in each life sphere in the country. Governmental institutional counterbalance was lost. Everything is under the authority of authoritarism which is backed by army and police.

A couple of words about political parties     

Before we turn to the thesis presentation of changing processes aimed at new Armenian nationhood  formation there appear reflections about politico-ideological entities (political parties) that act as pushing forces which form political environment within society. Ideoloical, political and spiritual communities started to appear in the XVII century in England, North America, France, etc. Their ideology has fast been spread and demolished the formations of feudal way of life by building new linkages with industrial world.
Political parties have become an integral part of social development and the main mechanism that formed state institutions. Four centuries of political systems activity and there were tested a lot of different ideas of optimal development in society and state. Per se, a great concurrence of ideologies and political systems that went through great transformations may be combined in one formula that allows to unify all ideological views – the security and prosperity of the state.

Social organizations activities, apart from political parties, do not have political programs in their basis. It is aimed at the society development and social relations between authorities and society. They affect gradually the government, a wide range of social problems and serve as barometer that estimates the state of nationhood affecting social life and the one of each person. Many of them have already integrated into social transcontinental systems that are in charge of ecology, human rights, new generations protection, militarism limitations, limate, social diplomacy and other worldwide problems.

In frames of nationhood social institutions more ectively penetrate in socially important problems. They are not selfish and assemble a great deal of social layers among themselves, defend their interests and control authorities’ activities. They are more sensitive towards the balance of branches of power, not embarrassed by career development, they are against corruption and feel that their safety depends on authorities smart management and the security of economic freedom. They value the education and health services, use neither benefits nor  political shields behind which mediocre political organizations are hiding. Political parties as a form of social activity have already become redundant. This system is outdated, especially for Armenians and their nationhood. And the system that is not actual lives with the aid of demagogy, deceit and theft.

It is obvious that political domain involves the existence of related institutions and professionals. An individual with his or her own judgment of important problems, actual aims, reputation and personal responsibility have become the priority of the government nowadays. Each candidate should be visually elected by citizens instead of ideologically oriented program of a political party that, virtually, act under the surveillance of elites aiming at defending interests of a limited scope of people. Candidates nomination for political instatutions should be held by the most objective meanings. World practice suggests a wide range of candidate nomination forms. Proportional type of elections should ne languished as well as the election systems principles should be changed.

For Armenians there is only one ideology – to preserve national values and traditions, providion of security and creation of all the necessary conditions for nation-wide prosperity. Tell me, please, what kind of ideological concurrence may exist among Armenian parties? Each of them has its own history, its own place in the formation process of Armenian nationhood, advantages and disadvantages, setbacks and misjudgments but objectivity and common sense make them leave all that behind and act as independently and freely as possible. Political parties, when transforming into social organizations may be actively engaged into social life, institutional activity that point at social initiatives realization. Every ambitious or struggle manifestations by the party leaders against reforms will surely be reviewed very critically.
Theses on Armenian nationhood development
Basic conceptual principles of Armenian nationhood new system formation:

  • to consider Armenian nationhood as a unified socio-political and economic system for all Armenian people:
  • “Armenians – is an Armenian community with ancient historic roots, unique state history, culture, language and religious confession. They managed to defend their self-identity and national pride, overcomed unimaginable calamities, e.g., genocide after which Armenians were forced to migrate all over the globe, preserving only 1/12 of their homeland”;
  • Armenian revived nationhood is a small part of Armenians’ flesh and that is why regardless the place of residence an Armenian is always a citizen of his or her historical homeland and benefit from all civil rights of development and security;
  • Armenian nationhood destiny is an inheritance of each Armenian, an integral part of his one;
  • Armenians’ resources will allow to effectively develop the nationhood concept, provide the nation with sustainable security and prosperity;

Regional structure
Regional authorities are elected by direct voting:
In all institutions except for legislative ones, elections are held ones in five years. In Legislative Assemblies – ones in four years.
Local selective committees hold governors, mayors, regional and local justice entities, local legislative councils, ombudsmen, local governments elections. 

United structured system of Armenian expat community worldwide

Armenian community lives dispersedly in dozens of countries worldwide where it forges expat entities characterized by antiassimilation activity. Their structure is highly diversified: in some places these are political entities that overrun leading positions, in others – parishes, public organizations, affinity groups, clubs, etc.
In many cases community activity is fractured by the ambitions of local leaders: decadent concurrence override the common sence.
The necessity for the creation of unified structured system of Armenian expat community has long been mellowing. In addition, it is possible to convince Armenian expat communities accept the unified organizational system.
Missions, negotiations, prominent leaders, professionals, communities leaders meetings are essential for this business.

Estimated structure of local expat organizations

There is a necessity in an institution that will unite and bear a delegate supervisory responsibility for all expat organizations under unifying national aim to consolidate Armenian state and foreign expats.
Therefore Coordination Council may become such an institution. It is being formed from all organization representatives (parties, parishes, other social structures). It discusses and defines nation-wide aims of community’s activities. The chairperson is elected for 6 months on the rotation principle from its own body.

If the expat community is big and segmental within the country than the Central Coordination Council is formed among the leader of each regional coordination Council. The Central Coordination Council elects its chairperson forone year on the principle of rotation. Such structure may also suit in Russia, the USA, France, Argentina, Australia singapore, etc.

Voting rights and election system in Armenia

The law is unique both for citizens who live in Armenia and those living abroad. All national elections are carried out by indirect elections (by voters) while regional – by direct ones.
Expat communittees structuring process will authorize the creation of an engagement mechanism for optimal involvement of Armenians living abroad in the election process.
There are no more than 1120 voters among whom 560 will be elected in constituencies and 560 in expat districts. Central selective committee defines 80 districts among which 40 that constitute the country and 40 are common expat ones. Average number of voters in each district is 14. The number of mandates vary from 2 to 3 depending on the principle of electorate list proportions in each district.
According to National Council regulations sessions convention take place 4 times a year. Each session takes 18 working days while plenary meetings, electorate meetings and commission work takes place. This type of work is not to be interrupted apart from sessions in distant mode for those who does not live in Armenia.

Rules for candidate nomination in National Council
Each Armenian citizen has a right for self-nomination. All Armenians who live abroad and act as citizens of foreign states are automatically considered Armenian ones. They have a right to be formally admitted to Armenian citizenship and get a passport within 3 years. Both self-nominated candidates and groups of individuals from 5 to 15 people (5 people are recorded as candidate’s authotized agents) are eligible to set up a candidate for presidential and vice-president elections as well as for National Council ones. The backing group should assemble the required number of citizens’ subscribtions that is stated by the election law and the election system of Armenia. Subscribtion lists should be presented to selective committee no later than in 100 days before the election day. Candidates meet their electorate and voters according to a fixed schedule approved by selective committees that form the debates and primaries ones.
Primaries are organized by the selective committees that form rating groups acting as voters and consisting of 31 journalists, teaching and medical staff, sociologists, psychologists, creative and scientific community who live in the concrete district.

The results of primaries are published as rating lists. Candidates nomination is a relatively complicated and important procedure and its nuances require further investigations as well as many other elective procedures.
Voters nomination is carried out by Armenian non-governmental and expat communities organizations from the most prominent and active members. They include 14 members in each district and are approved by the local selective committee in virtue of latest rating polls on the organization activity. Once in two years selective committees conduct polls for electorate to investigate the activity of local organizations in power as well as publish the rating results. After all procedures are carried out the local selective committee organize direct voters elections. The voters as well as candidates elected in national institutions should comply the demands settled by the legislatives (age rate, criminal conviction, health conditions, etc.)

Econimic development of Armenia
In terms of pool resources system there appear real possibilities for dominant economic trends design in the country.
It is essential to mention that these trends were previously defined by different experts as well as by various scholars. They were combined in diverse variants but were neither regarded as an integral national project with a focus on country’s economic development nor the concrete realization mechanisms were traced. Nevertheless, there were several enthusiasts who managed to realize several basic projects using private investments. These private investments abut against governmental distrust, the lack of legislative secure mechanisms and high corruption rate of governmental system. After overcoming all these negative economic barriers there will appear a justified hope for fast and effective result.

Vartan Mushegyan
RAEN Academician
Head of Russian Expat Community

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