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One More Chance: Yerevan Elections

Civilitas Perspective / Democracy
May 31 is the date that marks the first constitutional opportunity to popularly elect the leadership of Yerevan, home to nearly half of Armenia's population.

This is history-in-the-making for two reasons: Not only does the electorate have a chance to decide who best represents their vision for their city; but, inarguably more important for Armenians at this time, the political forces have a chance to decide whether they trust the people to make such a decision.

Elections are not the only standard by which to judge a democracy. But certainly they are an indispensable standard. These are not theoretical political concepts. This means -- are we determined that we can and will become a country where the people choose who governs them, and where those who govern feel accountable to the people? That's the simple question which each election forces us to ask.

The question is even more urgent today. The Yerevan city elections come just a year after a cynical presidential election and a disastrous follow-up. The ensuing political climate -- from paralyzing polarization to hopeless apathy -- has impacted individual lives and our collective future.

The Yerevan city elections offer a remedial opportunity, a chance to regain faith in ourselves and those who live with us, those who purport to govern us, those who wish to lead us. It's hard to say who bears the greatest burden in this formula. But certainly, the responsibility is on those in power and wishing to attain power.

Freedom: Everywhere or Nowhere

Civilitas Perspective / Democracy

Event On May 3, Armenia, along with the rest of the world, celebrated World Press Freedom Day. Two days earlier, Freedom House, the New-York based NGO which promotes freedom around the world, released a list of countries ranked by the degree of media freedom in each. Armenia is included among the “Not Free” countries, and ranks 151, along with Singapore. In a previous Freedom House report, Armenia was in 144th place, near Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, the Maldives, Moldova and Pakistan.

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Unfolding Civics Lessons

Civilitas Perspective / Democracy

Event March 22 marked the deadline for political parties to register to compete in Yerevan’s first direct popular elections for Yerevan City Council. The election will take place on May 31. The leader of the victorious party will become the mayor of Yerevan. Six political parties registered: The Republican Party, the Prosperous Armenia party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktsutyun, the Rule of Law party, the People’s Party, and the Socialist Labor Party, as did the Armenian National Congress, the assembly of several political parties, led by former president, Levon Ter-Petrossian. The only opposition party represented in Parliament, led by Raffi Hovannisian, chose not to participate, following long and quasi-public negotiations with the Ter-Petrossian team.

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Small Victories, Big Loss

Civilitas Perspective / Democracy

Event As a result of the last discussion on the situation in Armenia, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) did not impose sanctions, but Armenia ‘gained’ one more resolution.

Background In December 2008, the PACE Monitoring Group decided that at the PACE winter session in January 2009, PACE should discuss whether to deprive the Armenian delegation of its right to vote, since Armenia had not registered any substantive progress in implementing the provisions of PACE resolutions 1609 and 1620 that negatively assessed the political situation in the wake of the March 1 post-election crackdown. One day before the scheduled discussion, however, the   rapporteurs proposed that the issue not be raised in the plenary session of PACE, basing that recommendation on their visit to Armenia in mid-January. Instead, the session adopted yet another resolution -- number 1643 -- extending until the April PACE session the deadline for the Armenian authorities to comply with the demands contained in the two earlier resolutions.

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With the support of Norwegian and German governments, a few months ago the Civilitas Foundation began to conduct polls throughout Armenia. The results of the polls will be made available to the media and will serve as the topic of public discussions.

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Civilitas Spotlight


What can be expected of or for Syria in the immediate future? Can there be justice without peace? Can there be peace without an accounting and without justice? What do Syrians want? What does the international community want?

The guests are

Nicholas Koumjian

International Criminal Law Attorney

Vartan Oskanian

Member of Parliament

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs


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Facts for Thought
Number of theater performances (1) and attendance (2) in Armenia
(1) (2)
2008 2,364 409,500
2009 2,443 367,800
2010 2,331 394,800
2011 2,707 458,900
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