By Edmond Y. Azadian
The outcome of the February 18 presidential election is still in dispute. The founder and leader of the Heritage Party, Raffi Hovannisian, continues to challenge the election results. To dramatize his campaign, he has resorted to his traditional tactics, namely a hunger strike.
For a long time, he was not clear on why he had chosen that particular kind of protest, to what end or when he would end the hunger strike. But finally, during Holy Week, he made it clear that his hunger strike would end on Easter Sunday, when he would attend church services with his family. Therefore, as we go to press, Mr. Hovannisian has resumed his food intake to intensify his campaign.
His contention is that President Serge Sargisian’s reelection was flawed, therefore, he has to transfer power to Hovannisian, or rather to “the people.” He has equated himself with the people, which may be interpreted in two ways: either he is very humble to claim victory on behalf of the people or he is conceited enough to think he is the only candidate who can speak on behalf of the people.
Politics abhors a vacuum. When former president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s HAK coalition lost its position as a viable opposition force, all of the discontented groups rallied around Hovannisian.
As a populist politician, he is conducting a very flexible campaign, having carefully studied the underlying reasons which led to Ter-Petrosian’s failure. The former president had cobbled together a coalition of 18 discontented groups with different ideologies and interests. He had rallied those groups around some maximalist demands.