In an interview with ArmInfo, the international expert, ex-chairman of the parliamentary commission for external relations Hovhannes Igityan comments on the logic of the recent domestic political developments and tendencies in Armenia. Forecasts the most likely domestic political and foreign policy scenarios
Do you think early elections are a non-alternative way out of the current domestic political situation in Armenia?
Today, Armenia clearly needs extraordinary parliamentary elections. This is the most urgent task. I also consider it necessary to return to the semi-presidential form of government. It is this kind of system that gives clear and intelligible answers, at least for such internal challenges that we are facing now. In the case of the presidential system, Armenia would have a new president 40 days after the forced resignation of the acting president. And it would not be necessary to shake up the government and even the National Assembly. The authors of the existing Constitution developed it for the ruling party, and this system was very much like the control system of communist Armenia. As a result, the leadership of the judiciary and the executive, but not legislative power can resign, even if all law makers of all factions want it. In other words, the new Constitution did not leave any possibility for the dissolution of the parliament. Dissolution of parliament is possible only in case of repeated refusal of the parliament to approve the program of the government. At the same time, in the conditions of preserving the rating-majority system, in my opinion, it is simply impossible to elect a really politicized new parliament in early elections.
Is it because people will vote again based on pre-election bribes?
In addition to the use of money and administrative resources, the problem of the rating system lies in the absence of such a concept лике party responsibility for the essence of the candidate directed by the party to this or that district. In the rating conditions, the party sent 12-13 candidates to one district. And after winning by buying the votes of a semi-criminal element with a nickname, the party washed its hands, placing all responsibility for the choice of the people who chose the element with the nickname from the 13 candidates it proposed. This problem should be eliminated , and the party, as it is accepted all over the world, should nominate only one candidate. In any elections, to determine the electorate's sympathies, public political debates are extremely important. Now tell me about what kind of debate can there be in the district, in which more than 100 candidates have been nominated? While electing one or another MP, people did not even know which candidate for Primeirship they preferred and everything was extremely smeared. Meanwhile, this should be clearly expressed, which is possible only if the rating system is abandoned. That is why it is extremely necessary to remove all the prerequisites for the depolitization of the electoral system.
In other words, it is necessary to radically reform the Electoral Code. But how to do this, having 58 Republicans in the Parliament?
Perhaps, this is the main task of the new government, since it is impossible to organize normal elections under the old system. Indeed, today, theoretically, these 58, hanging literally in the air, are able to block the whole country, the opinions and desires of the entire population. Thus, it is impossible to resolve this situation by legal and regulatory methods, using the practice adopted in all normal countries. Nikol Pashinyan and all the people who supported him did not limit themselves to the goal of replacing Serzh Sargsyan with Nikol Pashinyan. Accordingly, Nikol Pashinyan should continue to use the discontent of the people expressed in the streets, the society for getting rid of the Republicans still sitting in the parliament and changing the whole system of Government. Many call it blackmail, pressure, and punishment of the people, but it does not change the essence. As soon as the Republicans refuse to vote on this or that bill of the interim government, the people will immediately go out to the streets again. Accordingly, these people should understand that it is already impossible to live in a small Armenian society. and to behave the way they did. Therefore, I am inclined to think that under the pressure of this factor, the Republicans will vote for a package of reforms aimed at holding fair elections. And it is the factor that led to the resignation of Serzh Sargsyan, will be decisive in the Republican vote "for", promised to the society by Nikol Pashinyan, the legislative package of reforms.
The logic of the resignations and the names of the people who voted from the RPA for Nikol Pashinyan seems to indicate the intention of the RPA to preserve itself for participation in future elections. Against this background, Karen Karapetyan intends to create a party with the participation of Russian capital. Do not you think that the RPA has already reconciled with the role of the opposition and is already preparing to fight with Nikol Pashinyan exactly in this role?
The main backbone of the RPA is people who have never been in the opposition and I simply can't imagine them in this role. These people are simply merged with the authorities, and the fact that they continue to solve some problemsjointly is due solely to their common interests in preserving, as a minimum, their property. Despite Pashinyan's constant assurances that there will be no vendetta, they still feel the danger and this is perhaps the only thing that unites them today. That is why, if the RPA is grouped and will go to early elections in this composition, with this behavior, I do not see even one percent of the vote. Karen Karapetyan, in turn, relies on rich Armenian friends from Russia and on the other hand, on a rich internal entourage. However, I am also convinced that in fair elections he will be reminded of many previous deeds. First of all, an attempt to assure Moscow that Armenia is following the path of Ukraine. Do you imagine what would happen if they believed it there in Russia? And here it is extremely important that the NSS and the Police fulfill their duties and functions. The first, suppressing foreign political, personal and most important financial interference in the elections in Armenia, the second - preventing the distribution of bribes and the use of administrative resources. At the same time, who heads them is a second priority, to my personal view .
Do you exclude bribes in early elections in this case?
I think that this system could be created. Especially if there is an appropriate atmosphere in society. Plus the control and actions of the power structures, the actions of the fourth power. It was journalists who, with their presence at peaceful rallies, ruled out the possibility for the authorities to succumb to the temptation of dispersing protesters by force. In this sense, I see all the prerequisites for reducing the money factor to a minimum in future elections.
Supporting Nikol Pashinyan on the street, quite a few do it solely in protest against the still existing Republicans. And quite a significant part of society is experiencing, in many respects, quite justifiable doubts in his attitude, seeing even his ties with Serzh Sargsyan in his past. Levon Ter-Petrosyan was adored in 1991, but a year or two later he was hated. Do you have any fears that Pashinyan may become another disappointment for us?
I always rejected the idea that Nikol Pashinyan is Serzh Sargsyan's project. And only those who did not know it could afford such an assumption. Many accused Pashinyan of "sergeism" in order to discredit him and thereby emphasize his own importance. Nevertheless, even at last year's elections, Pashinyan and Yelkom were in the parliament, while the ANC gained 1.5 percent. Incidentally, this is what prevents, for example, ANC, from congratulating Pashinyan today on his election.
Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly ruled out a vendetta against anyone. And, nevertheless, he intends to bring the economy into the mainstream of legality. And how then to deal with those who are called oligarchs in Armenia?
They all need to be returned to the legal field. And Pashinyan is already trying to talk about it. All flagrant violations of the law should be appropriately evaluated under the same law and punished accordingly. And it is not necessary to put someone in jal at all. For example, a person who purchased some state property for the amount of 100 times lower than the cadastral value, should be punished, of course, forcing to return to the treasury the real value of this property. This is not a question of filling the budget. This is a matter of the future, everyone should know that any use of personal ties in such cases will sooner or later be punished. It is not necessary to select property, but it is absolutely necessary to return the shortfall that was received by the state budget. It is necessary to eradicate the super profits of monopolies, primarily natural ones. And for this, the PSRC should at last take up its own direct duties. And the prospects for realizing all this are already being seen.
In Armenia, for the first time in many years, there is a situation when the government, as if, really is in the hands of the people. In any case, she is no longer with the RPA and not with Nikol Pashinyan. If only because everything depends on whether the people will come out into the streets at a decisive moment. Does our people realize their own power, and how this factor will be projected onto subsequent impulses in relations with the authorities?
Power really is in the hands of the people. Because if the people suddenly turn away from Nikol Pashinyan, his support in parliament will immediately return to 9 votes. A French official or politician, after all, is not in any way better than the Armenian, simply in France there is a system of people's control over the authorities. And today, taking to the streets, the Armenian people regained the right to at least control over the authorities and as a maximum control over its formation. Therefore, at the second stage, we must do everything to ensure that the people's control over the power prevents the appearance of any premier in the bud even the thought that his brother can become the richest or most influential businessman in Armenia. Knowing the moral qualities of Nikol Pashinyan, I have no doubt about them, but we've seen too much, because it's not enough to hope for these qualities.
What forces, in your opinion, will apply for participation in the early elections?
Against the backdrop of the lack of left or right parties in Armenia, at the next elections in Armenia we will have a vote for and against Nikol Pashinyan or rather the previous mafia structure - the RPA. Even the permanent electorate of the ARF is conditioned not by its socialist orientation, but by the attitude of this party to one or another all-Armenian emotion.
The trips of Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sargsyan for legitimacy to Moscow, Washington and Brussels, of course, imposed certain obligations on the foreign policy of our country. Do you think that Armenia's international position will strengthen the appearance of a person at the helm of power who owes its legitimacy exclusively to the Armenian people? First of all, in negotiations with the dynastic ruler of neighboring Azerbaijan?
I think that this is really so. I think that this will happen in the protection of Armenia's interests in relations with Russia, especially within the framework of the EAEC. It is very important in the Karabakh issue that Nikol Pashinyan is not a representative of the "Karabakh group", presenting, in contrast to his two predecessors, exclusively the interests of Armenia. The transition to the parliamentary system led to the fact that no one in Armenia could speak on behalf of the people. And if Serzh Sargsyan suddenly decided to behave a bit more rigidly in the Karabakh issue than Russia would like, justifying it with the "wishes of the people" would instantly point him at 58 puppets planted in the parliament. Nikol Pashinyan received from the people not only the right to represent him, but also the responsibility for his political actions. And in talking with "big people" he will use all this to the maximum. Moreover, not only in the issue of Karabakh. Thus, filling the lack of legitimacy, at least at the first stage of Armenia's position, will certainly strengthen.
Society's excessively high expectations with respect to Pashinyan, is it a plus or minus?
I do not think that expectations are overestimated. Another thing is that they will be difficult to implement. The expectations of the Armenian society are no different from the expectations and requirements of the Swedish, French or German peoples. In the end, people do not want to see cynical permissiveness, corruption, make money on tariffs and social networks, and want the power in Armenia to listen to the people. And this is not much.