Armenia on the eve of constitutional referendum

Armenia on the eve of constitutional referendum

There are two days left before the national referendum on constitutional reforms, which is scheduled for December 6. In the past two weeks, the opposition has significantly increased the already high turnover of struggle against the changes proposed by the power. On December 1, the New Armenia Public Salvation Front launched a round-the-clock sit-in on Yerevan’s Liberty Square, which includes the Heritage party, the Democratic Homeland opposition party, the socio-political organization ‘Constitutive Parliament’ and the protest movement 'Rise, Armenia!'

"We are dealing with the sunset of the faceless anti-civil authority, which will stand before the court tomorrow. The power is convulsing and wishes to strengthen its party staff, to create an atmosphere of fear with the help of a fake referendum. We will stay on the square as long as the government does not leave voluntarily or at the request of the people," the Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian said at the meeting on December 1st.

The rallies are attended by representatives of another opposition column - the 'No' front, which uniting the opposition party Armenian National Congress, the People's Party of Armenia, the initiative ‘You Will Not Fool Us!’, as well as several public organizations.

Although both columns share a common line in the issue of constitutional changes and making a lot of effort to create a negative atmosphere in the country in relation to this project, they have tactical differences. The New Armenia Public Salvation Front made demands on the resignation of the authorities, while the activities of the No front is aimed solely at the failure of the referendum.

We should note that the change of power in Armenia at the moment is unreal. The regime has a much greater potential than the forces which say about its imminent demise. The authorities have concentrated all power, financial, information and economic resources. 'The New Armenia' has no serious opportunity to make an application for a change of power. In this regard, the 'No' front is a more serious force. It has own representatives in 95% of election commissions, as well as it put its proxies and observers in almost all areas. The 'No' front, in contrast to its colleagues in the opposition from the 'New Armenia' does not make rash statements about a change of the government and the need to create a tent camp on the Liberty Square, but focuses on the problem of the failure of the referendum. 

According to the chairman of propaganda headquarters of the 'No' front, Levon Zurabyan, the front representatives intend to control by hidden recording devices to catch the falsifications: the 'No' front does not have precise information about bribing voters yet. We believe that this time the authorities have focused on the pressure or bribery of members of the commission.

Armenian society is opposed to the constitutional changes, but it is necessary to convert public opinion into a real political result. In contrast to previous national elections, on the eve of the referendum there is not the usual political heat and high level of confrontation between the authorities and the opposition in Armenia, which took place during the presidential elections in 2013 and even more in 2003 and to a greater extent in 2008. The absence of the usual confrontation is due to the fact that today it is not about elections, the citizens are offered an abstract document, people know nothing about it and the vast majority do not want to know. The authorities are trying to explain that this document is necessary for Armenia's future, that the changes will contribute to the development of democracy and the creation of greater opportunities for the opposition. But society cannot understand what's wrong with the current Constitution.

The decisive role in shaping public opinion on the issue of constitutional reforms was played by a simple scheme, proposed by the opposition. The opposition knows the details of the document, and during the intellectual debate on television and during various events it convincingly and competently defends its point of view. Representatives of the opposition do not stop at the content of the document. The people were sent a simple and clear message that the authorities need the constitutional changes only to keep Serzh Sargsyan in power. Given the low ratings of the president, the message of the opposition was received by the majority of citizens.

Despite the lack of comparability of the resources of the authorities and the opposition, the results of the referendum will clearly play a certain role in the future political life. If the project is not approved by society, it may be a prelude to a series of very serious problems for the ruling regime

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Vestnik Kavkaza

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