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Young Generation Joins Armenian Political Action

Ani Nazaryan, Tiko Zurabishvili

Armenia’s parliamentary elections produced no surprises. Central Election Commission results showed acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step alliance won 70.4 percent of votes, Prosperous Armenia Party took 8.3 percent, and the liberal Bright Armenia party was in third place with 6.4 percent.

But there were surprising fresh young faces involved in the campaign. “Citizen’s Decision” Social Democratic Party was formed by young activists in May after the Velvet Revolution in which Pashinyan took power. The party received 8,530 votes or 0.68 percent on December 9.

In an interview with Spotlight, Gor Hakobyan, an executive board member of Citizen’s Decision, said it took six months to engage people and then create regulations and programs for the Party.

“In summer we had meetings and discussions with a lot of people,” he said. “Now that the system has changed, there is a free platform and space for our programs and policies. We have a vision for our country. So we say – why not present it?

“Creating a political party is our way of presenting that vision. We officially registered on November 13 I can’t say exactly how many members we have because a lot of applicants are waiting. But the main nucleus is 300 persons,” he said, adding that mostly youth are involved.

According to Hakobyan, it is important to create a country where social justice, direct democracy and constitutional order are a high priority. One goal is to bring a new alternative political culture to the country.

“The system of how we govern our party is very unique and new in Armenia,” he said. “We have a collective ruling body as an executive board and we offer our discussions and decision-making online as well. We don’t have secrets from the public; politics should be free and transparent.”

Hakobyan said they didn’t join the My Step alliance because it is liberal or neoliberal, and Citizen’s Decision consider itself a Social Democratic party. “Maybe there are some similarities, but fundamentally we see Armenia differently,” he said.

Hakobyan also discussed the aims of politically active youth in Armenia, emphasizing environmental issues: “I think this generation now active in politics will struggle for their rights. Constitution problems, social justice problems, environmental problems… for our party the environment is very important, and how environmental problems influence the socio-economic problems of the state.

“There’s a lot of mining in Armenia. They put money the economy, but makes problems for the environment. The economy is developing like a mining economy, not a  new technologies economy. But it’s time for our generation to make changes. It is our responsibility to do this.”

Hakobyan said the elections were a new experience for many in the party. If Citizen’s Decision had received the 5 percent vote needed to have members in the new parliament, the party’s plan was to work on changing the Constitution and Election Code and work on making NGOs and trade unions more transparent.

They would have also tried to write laws aimed at reducing poverty. “A lot of people have been involved in corruption for many years. They didn’t paid taxes and became rich,” Hakobyan said. “So we want to have some mechanism for taxation of illegal property.”

After he voted, former president Armen Sargsyan was asked by Spotlight for his evaluation of youth involvement in politics, and it their lack of experience was a risk.

“I have recently said that this Armenia is a young Armenia,” he said, and walked away.

In a November 28 speech at the Bertelsmann Foundation in Germany, Sargsyan said: “This is young Armenia. Our country has a soul which looks towards the future. It believes the future will be better compare than the past. Every visitor of Armenia will feel that it is a young generation, a young country.”