The war has destroyed Armenia’s morale. People are grieving their losses and the entire country is licking its wounds. Seventy-five percent of the territory of Karabakh is lost and Armenia’s southern region, Syunik, is under Azerbaijani threat but the Armenian political parties seem to have forgotten the losses and danger at hand and are instead fighting over whatever has been left.
It is an odd situation in the sense that people are trying to overcome the trauma inflicted on the country and pretend that the normal course of life is already being restored.
The electoral campaign is so intense that the parties involved have created their own world and they have lost their connections to regional problems which have their own pace of development. So much detachment from regional problems may lead one day to a rude awakening.
Although in the bigger picture two major camps (that of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and former President Robert Kocharyan) are confronting each other, upon further scrutiny, the mosaic may reveal a more nuanced picture; there are 22 parties and four alliances but it is believed that all those parties eventually will become subsidiaries of the two main camps.
Kocharyan is in an alliance with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and a group from Syunik called Reborn Armenia (Veratsnvogh Hayastan) and his camp is characterized as the comeback vehicle of the old regime. That is not entirely true, because there was an effort by the country’s first president, Levon Ter-Petrosian, to bring together all the former presidents to stop his former disciple, Pashinyan, but they failed to agree with each other. Kocharyan has gone his own way and it seems he has been able to connect with disgruntled residents.
In his most recent public debate, Ter-Petrosian saw a silver lining in the participation of so many parties, which may splinter the vote and not allow any single party to achieve a full mandate, eventually leading all the winning parties to find accommodation in a national unity government. That is a positive way to look at the situation, but the hatred, animosity and acrimonious language are so intense that one is at a loss to see the prospect of workable cooperation after June 20.