BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
The voters in Armenia made their voices heard during Sunday’s snap parliamentary elections—the first national election following this spring’s popular movement, which toppled the former regime ushering in a new era in Armenia where the people truly control their own destiny.
Local and international observers have declared the election to be free and fair and that the results reflect the will of the people, who for the first time since Armenia’s independence were able to vote with their conscience and make it count.
The wave that started with the popular movement this spring and led to Sunday’s election cannot be reversed and the people’s will—especially the young generation’s—must not be crushed. The time has come for every Armenian, be they in Armenia or the Diaspora, to come together and roll up their sleeves with a commitment to strengthen the Republic of Armenia, because it is only with a strong homeland that our Nation can thrive and prosper.
We cannot ignore the acrimonious campaign the preceded the election. The new regime must end the campaigning and focus on governing the country, in an inclusive and representative manner and fold in the enormous talent and capabilities of our people in the service to our homeland.
This is a monumental opportunity for our Nation to collectively ensure social and economic justice for every citizen of Armenia whose individual and collective rights must be of utmost priority.
The newly elected lawmakers must formulate a government that is free of corruption; take steps to reform the judiciary so that it is independent and functions for the interest of the people and the advancement of rule of law; and for a free press to flourish so that it not only informs but advances the democratic norms that are embedded in Armenia’s Constitution. In addition to buttressing Armenia’s domestic institutions, the new leaders of Armenia must prioritize the strengthening of the Armed Forces, whose soldiers are at the frontlines defending our national security both in Armenia and Artsakh. A comprehensive program to completely rebuild and revitalize the Earthquake Zone should also become a priority.
Moreover, the new legislature should focus on reforming the election laws. During this process, a true picture of Armenia’s electorate must emerge. Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission placed the number of eligible voters at 2, 573,779, with 1,260,840 voting in Sunday’s elections, making the turnout 48.63 percent. With a country that has experienced such a high volume of emigration, the CEC’s accounting of eligible voters does not reflect the true picture of the population.
This is also a chance for all political forces—within or outside of parliament—to advance their ideals through concrete work and provide the necessary tools to the new government to succeed in both domestic and external fronts.
Armenia and the Armenian Nation are facing critical—and existential—challenges. The tenuous peace in Artsakh is under constant military threat by Azerbaijan. International pressures on Armenia regarding regional priorities of other nations pose undue demands on Armenia to recalibrate its domestic and foreign priorities.
These challenges are of national importance and the new government, as well as the political forces in Armenia, must recognize that only through a united front can we, as a Nation, confront the obstacles that endanger the national security of our homeland and threaten the well-being and right to self-determination of the Armenian people, be that in Armenia proper or in Artsakh.
Hopefully, the new government will be guided by these principles and develop a program that stems from our national interests and takes into account our national aspirations.
So, congratulations to the winners of Sunday’s election. In addition to wishing them luck in their endeavors to govern our country, every Armenian must also pledges his/her unequivocal support to collectively advance and strengthen our homeland.