Instead of consolidating the opposition, the recent attempts aimed at establishing the Armenian National Congress – an idea advanced by L. Ter-Petrosyan on May 2, during the conference of the “pan-national movement”, has began serving as a specific kind of “litmus test” revealing the internal controversies.
Obviously, L. Ter-Petrosyan’s long-range political calculations aiming to prevent the splitting of the opposition prior to the February 19 elections are already on the brink of a total failure. Actually, apart from the Armenian Pan-National Movement, “Republic” party and a number of other minor political factions, the proposal of establishing the Armenian National Congress does not receive approval by the pro-opposition forces.
And although some of them refuse to confess this fact in a public manner and satisfy themselves by some uncertain hints while the others are waiting for the congress to clarify its program and regulations, all this cannot disguise the subject matter of the question.
Evidently, the more or less influential pro-opposition forces supporting Ter-Petrosyan see an undisguised intention of making their own goals serve the long-term programs of the Armenian Pan-National Movement and its leader. Those forces have already made sure that the results of the political struggle that started with the February 19 presidential elections are final and unshakeable. So, they have to think about the next stage of the political developments from now on.
And the problem they are facing now is the imperative of clarifying the issue of the “legal successor” of the opposition rather than the political discords with the Armenian Pan-National Movement and its leader. Of course, the political forces and activists supporting L. Ter-Petrosyan pursue divergent views in political-ideological issues as well, and they can even be said to be on mutually exclusive poles.
Anyway, we believe that the subject matter of the question does not consist in the ideological discords but rather, in the desire to be granted freedom of hands in the course of the political arrangements.
This first of all concerns “Heritage” party which has such an outstanding political leader as Raffi Hovhannisyan, an activist whose political ambitions have been known for a long time. During the next presidential elections, the leader of “Heritage” will finally have the opportunity to overcome the obstacle of 10-year citizenship and propose his candidacy. And his political party is offered to join the Armenian National Congress which undoubtedly will be ruled by Mr. Ter-Petrosyan. Naturally, “Heritage” will not form part of the congress unless this multi-party structure clarifies its decision-making procedures.
Therefore, in a statement released after the council session convened on July 25, the representatives of the party say:
“Welcoming the initiative of establishing the Armenian National Congress,
Attaching value to the struggle inside the pro-opposition forces for the sake of civil and political rights and democracy,
To discuss all the possible forms of cooperation and partnership with the Armenian National Congress after the adoption of its program-related and procedural documents.”
That’s to say, “Heritage” politely turns down the proposal of becoming one the founding members of the Armenian National Congress and at the same time, allows for a possibility of not becoming a member at all.
To prevent the establishment of the Armenian National Congress from developing into a process of splitting the “Pan-National Movement”, L. Ter-Petrosyan cannot but do the following: to “adopt” R. Hovhannisyan politically, declaring him as his “legal successor”. But how can he take such a risk, when among his co-thinkers and the political forces supporting him there are other candidates for such legal successors, e.g. David Shahnazaryan, Stepan Demirtchyan and others.
The latter too, is pessimistic about the prospect of changing the “pan-national movement” into an “Armenian National Congress”. Head of the People’s Party does not even conceal the fact that he favors the idea of the “pan-national movement” more. Besides, as Stepan Demirtchyan notes, “the important thing is the clear-cut formulation of the realistic goals and objectives, practical work and, of course, decency in mutual relations. After all, it is possible to cooperate without creating some formal formats.”
It turns out that Stepan Demirtchyan considers the proposal of establishing an Armenian National Congress as nothing more than a “formal format” or just a change of name.
After receiving such a “slap”, the closest circles of L. Ter-Petrosyan will no longer “create problems”. There, everything will be accounted for Stepan Demirtchyan’s insufficient knowledge in philosophy, as this person never manages to grasp the in-depth relationship between form and content.
Of course, they will not be mistaken in gnosiological sense, but the whole problem is that S. Demirtchyan himself has serious hesitations. Being cautious from birth and having a certain respect for the authorities, this activist too, thinks about the future of his party. Set up by Karen Demirtchyan, the People’s Party of Armenia (PPA) is now facing the risk of becoming the ‘adjunct body’ of the Armenian Pan-National Movement – the ideological rival of the founder, because by the establishment of the Armenian National Congress, the argument on the necessity of supporting Ter-Petrosyan in the force-majeure of the presidential elections becomes void.
Considering the polite refusal of “Heritage” party and the serious hesitations of the PPA leader, Ter-Petrosyan has recently started making a fuss and organizing meetings with some minor parties.
However, it turns out that the idea of establishing a congress has started to produce a boomerang effect on the “movement” which is weakening as it is, so the Armenian Pan-National Movement and its leader may take more decisive steps in the near future. According to available information, the press supporting the Armenian Pan-National Movement has been instructed to start a harsh criticism of those pro-opposition figures who deny the idea of creating the Armenian National Congress.
Thus, it turns out that the proposal on setting up a congress splits rather than consolidates the opposition. The reason is that such proposal, from the point of view of domestic policy, first of all solves the strategic problems faced by the Armenian Pan-National Movement – the main supporter of Levon Ter-Petrosyan.
That is, having achieved the partial “rehabilitation” of the party leader as a result of the February 19 elections, the Armenian Pan-National Movement is now facing the urgent need of changing its name with the purpose of strengthening its positions on the political arena and achieving success in the next parliamentary elections. In this way, the movement will introduce itself to the public as a new political force which has been “renovated in the Western style” but continues to be ruled by the old leader.