The process and results of December 6 referendum is yet to be speculated on for a long time to come. It differed from the former election processes with a number of parameters: there were different topics, scale and expected outcomes in this case.
However, as in other previous election processes and irrespective of the opinions voiced, the two vying sides were, on the one hand, “the refined” System with its subsystems, mechanisms of mutual control, visible and invisible levers and tested tools and, on the other, the opposite side(s) with their typical limited discipline, polarity and controversies.
At the same time, the results of the opposite side should be highly praised, as it was exclusively owing to their principled approach and dedication that made the tangible achievements possible. Simultaneously, the System does what it is good at: taking advantage of the lack of another system or systems, it aspires to win at any cost and in any way. The System profits by the lack of counterbalances and coordinated counteraction. In contrast, the opposite side doesn’t turn into a system.
Almost everyone understands that it’s impossible to go on this way. The Armenian opposition doesn’t grow into a system, rather, there is an opposite side, widely spread opposition views and endless complaints. There are determined and radical individuals striving for changes, political and public figures who relentlessly reproach the system criticizing it with all the possible and impossible ways.
That being said, the majority of them do realize that it’s impossible to continue this way. They fail to capitalize the people’s unhappiness, organize themselves and not to repeat the mistakes of the past. The responsibility of creating a system is too tough a process to be left on individuals “flowing” with the favoring winds.
The risk factor is also key in being successful in political processes. Having 1 or 3 loyal supporters in each of the 1997 polling stations is an important but not sufficient condition for effective counteraction against the System. The System can only be resisted by becoming another system.
All the frauds, violence, double voting, ballot box stuffing and other illegal actions in the polling stations can be responded to but they will still be forms of individual resistance if those who oppose act upon their personal views.
Systems of counteraction should be established without resorting to excessive creativity. Recording of gross violations expressed in lyrical digressions and astonished stares has helped neither in the past nor in future. They should be withstood in more versatile and reasonable ways. This time, we saw its vague silhouettes as we had a different resistance; still, it was not a system.
To sum up, my last observation: it’s unacceptable to offend or criticize the people as far as elections are concerned. The people shouldn’t be criticized for the work undone by others.
Vahram Ter-Matevosyan is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the National Academy of Sciences.
This views are his own.