By Hrachya Arzumanian
The ongoing self-organization processes allowed the Armenian society to move to the stage of forming larger socio-political associations based on micro-groups. Armenia’s current situation does not allow us to say whether the society will be able to form an alternative pole of social and political forces for early elections.
The Armenian government has created a situation of unfolding an image election campaign when the political struggle comes down to a clash of personalities who are symbols of the present and the previous government. The intention to speed up self-organization processes and the formation of an alternative pole force us to accept the proposed conditions for conducting an election campaign when time and resources become a critical parameter.
The Armenian society continues to be in a state of depression, which cannot be overcome. The inability of the Armenian authorities to announce the final figures of the dead, missing and prisoners, the ongoing process of searching, identifying, and burying the dead do not allow society to put a psychological end to and close the page of the war in the internal social and political life.
This behavior of the authorities speaks of the general level of development of the state apparatus of post-Soviet Armenia, which was unable to provide a solution to accounting tasks for the personnel of the armed forces participating in hostilities. The solution to this problem is quite simple from the IT point of view. With a greater degree of probability, it can be argued that a similar situation is present concerning armaments and military equipment, and other material assets of Armenia after the war. The war showed that the level of development of Armenia’s state apparatus achieved during the first Artsakh war of 1992-94 was lost. Struck by nepotism, corruption, and clan ties, the Armenian state degraded and was unable to fulfill its basic functions.
Nevertheless, even in such difficult conditions, the process of self-organization of the Armenian society continues, the active part of which is trying to find ways to bring society out of the national crisis. The parliamentary parties’ announcement about their intention to hold early elections at the end of June accelerated the social processes. However, it is still impossible to talk about new quality and radical changes.
Armenian society has moved on to the next development stage, when the formed public micro-groups are uniting into larger associations, most often of a professional or territorial nature. The socio-political processes of self-organization in Armenia develop naturally for the post-war society. To date, there are no catalysts capable of dramatically speeding up the processes and leading to the birth of a new socio-political initiative at the national level due to the action of emergence mechanisms. The consequences of such a process are both positive and negative.
The positive is the ability of a society experiencing depression to avoid provocations of destructive forces within society and external centers of power, intending to bring down the Armenian state, turning Armenia into a falling state. The negative consequences are associated with the significant dynamics of the security environment when the possibility of large-scale military actions on a regional scale in the Middle East and South Caucasus remains.
In the conditions of the paralysis of the state apparatus, primarily the national security system, it is the society that is forced to overcome the consequences of post-Soviet Armenia’s incapacity. Forming responses to old and new challenges and threats to a dynamic security environment in a de facto emergency and martial law inevitably leads to great overloads. The Armenian society is forced to act faster than the unfolding processes of self-organization in shrinking time conditions.
It is impossible to say whether society will manage to form responses or be destroyed by the subsequent destabilization of the region’s situation. Post-Soviet Armenia has not yet created institutions capable of analyzing and forecasting the situation in the region and the world. Moreover, after 2018, the Armenian government took the path of dismantling the existing institutions of this kind by that time, being unable to create new ones. As a global phenomenon, Armenians also failed to form institutions capable of forecasting the situation in the region. Analysis of the reasons for the inability and unwillingness to engage in such activity requires a separate article.
Thus, Armenia’s current situation does not allow us to say whether the society will be able to overcome the tendencies that led to defeat and form a pole of socio-political forces capable of offering a way out of the national crisis and an alternative way of development. Having accelerated the formation of such a pole, early elections play a tactical role, and the socio-political processes of self-organization will unfold regardless of its results. If Armenia manages to avoid the systemic trajectory of transformation into a falling state, the Armenian society will form a new political space and actors.
In the current conditions, the Armenian people, as a global phenomenon, should support the processes of self-organization and the formation of large socio-political initiatives and a new political space, regardless of the behavior of the current Armenian government, its ability to hold transparent, legitimate elections.
The swiftness of the early elections does not allow the formation of a social and political alternative in the Armenian society naturally¹. The proposed draft amendments to the electoral code, submitted to parliament by the ruling party, simplify the registration of new parties and increases the number of political forces represented in parliament from the current three to four. Also, the amendments propose establishing a new threshold for parties and party unions. It is also proposed to eliminate the electoral rating system by returning the proportional one.
Thus, conditions are created that complicate the formation of party coalitions by small parties and scatter the potential of national forces. The form of political struggle within the framework of party coalitions, which is already not very popular in the Armenian political field, is becoming even more challenging to implement. Parties are tempted to cross the threshold and enter parliament by acting alone in the political arena rather than within a coalition, which increases the ruling political party’s chances of retaining power.
Due to the imperfection of the electoral code and the law on parties, when creating a party or entering the party electoral list is the only way to participate in political life, today there are over 100 political parties in Armenia. Moreover, the legal framework encourages the preservation of this state, making it difficult to combine micro-parties into larger and more capable political organizations. Armenia’s political parties represent an incoherent set, but not a system, devaluing the meaning and significance of the concept of “party.”
The concepts of “national” and “state” are also devalued when dozens of parties with these words in their names some of which demonstrate anti-national and anti-state behavior. As a result, concepts are degrading and destroyed in Armenia’s information and political field, making it difficult to form a truly national and state socio-political pole.
The acceleration of the processes of self-organization under the prevailing conditions seems unlikely. The state of a society experiencing depression excludes the possibility of using shock methods to speed up processes. Additionally, there can be no guarantee that the use of such methods will not cause unpredictable reactions. The very nature of psi-influences on a suppressed society excludes accurate prediction of the generated effects.
As a consequence, the choice of shock methods seems to be highly undesirable. Whether the Armenian government is capable of realizing this fact does not seem to be possible. Armenian society seeks to avoid shocking methods, distancing itself from radical forms of social struggle. Whether the external shock and abrupt changes in the regional security environment can accelerate the processes of self-organization, whether the Armenian society will be able to form a response in such conditions is impossible to say at the moment, even theoretically.
Thus, the Armenian government has created a frame on the political field. The political struggle is reduced to a clash of two personalities, Nikol Pashinyan, representing the current government, and Robert Kocharian, a representative of the previous authorities. The political component is excluded from the pre-election struggle and the methods of overcoming the national crisis.
The Armenian government has created a situation when it is necessary to talk about an image symbolic election campaign when personalities who are a manifestation and a symbol of the present and the previous authorities will clash in the struggle. Attempts to analyze the situation based on political logic do not reveal any differences in Nikol Pashinyan and Robert Kocharian’s positions, except for rhetoric. Both politicians build their policies based on an oligarchic system of government and external centers of power.
Under circumstances when images and symbols compete within the framework of the election campaign, the development of a purely political agenda, which is at the stage of forming an alternative pole of new socio-political forces, becomes impossible due to the disproportionate resources of the parties. The Armenian government and Robert Kocharian have overwhelming organizational, informational, and financial power that allows them to form the rules of the game in the political arena.
In such a situation, the intention to speed up self-organization processes and form an alternative pole also forces us to follow the path of developing an image and symbolic election campaign and strategy. The two symbols representing the past and the present of post-Soviet Armenia must be opposed by a symbolic personality personifying Armenia’s future and proposing a policy and strategy for overcoming the national crisis.
This approach can be implemented in two ways. Within the framework of the first, the election campaign is carried out with the support of individuals who have the necessary social and political weight and can take on a symbolic burden by becoming the center of gravity and unification of a significant part of society that does not want to return to the past and does not accept the present. In Armenian society, there is no person with absolute national authority. It is necessary to talk about a council whose members could take on this function.
Suppose it is impossible to form such a council that can become a point of crystallization of socio-political processes. In that case, society must solve the problem by creating new political figures capable of uniting society around itself. The task seems to be more complicated, on the one hand, since we are talking about the formation of a new symbolic political personality “from scratch.” On the other hand, this problem’s solution seems simpler since it presupposes a conditional “blank slate” when the required socio-political image is formed from the candidates, who do not have a political history and negative memory.
Considering the possibilities of modern political and information technologies, the creation of symbolic political personalities in a limited time seems to be a solvable task, with the necessary resources’ involvement. The formation of such a personality will allow the alternative pole, which is at the stage of formation, to take part in a non-political, but symbolic election campaign, thereby speeding up the processes of self-organization.
In both cases, the formation of a response to the election campaign’s challenges by the images and symbolic personalities of the current and previous authorities, which are opposed to the collective personality of the future, turns out to be attractive for society. At the same time, there should be an understanding that the complicated tasks of forming a policy and a strategy for overcoming the national crisis are taken out of the election campaign and are already formalized in the parliament after the elections. The political component is excluded from the election campaign and early elections.
In implementing the proposed method of forming an alternative to the formed two poles of the pre-election struggle, the critical parameter is time and resources. Since we are talking about a symbolic image campaign and personalities, the formation and promotion of which takes place in the information space, the Armenians, as a global phenomenon, are able to solve the problem of accumulating the necessary resources in a limited time.
¹Arzumanian, Hrachya. “Early Elections in Armenia in the Context of Deepening National Crisis,” Ararat Institute for Near Eastern Studies, 28 March 2021. On-line access 8 March 2021. (https://araratinstitute.org/2021/03/28/early-elections-in-armenia-in-the-context-of-deepening-national-crisis/).
Hrachya Arzumanian, Doctor of Political Science, PhD in Computer Sciences. Academic Fields: Complexity thinking in Policy, Strategy, National Security and Military sphere. The author of ten books and more than 300 papers, articles, and reports. Former Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh (2006 to 2020). The chief of branch on the preparation of work of Security Council of Artsakh (2006-2008). The Chief of IT Service of Artsakh Defense Army from 1995-2001.