Election Season in Armenia

Things are heating up in Armenia. I’m not just talking about the permafrost thawing on all of us in the regions. I’m talking about the political feistiness.

On May 6th Armenia will hold parliamentary elections. This is a big deal. The elections are held every 5 years. The presidential elections are also every 5 years, but held one year after the parliamentary ones. So, the last elections were the 2008 presidential elections. These elections turned into a bloody debacle that still hangs over the country like a storm cloud.

In that context, the election season is tense. It’s also very meaningful if you consider the youth of the republic – it’s only 20 years old. There are also many more competitive parties than we have in America, so that’s interesting as well. Another fascinating aspect is the scale of everything. Sure, these are important leaders and famous people leading the parties and running for office. But they are much more accessible than in America. For example, I spoke with the 5th strongest party’s leader last spring while he was doing a hunger strike in Yerevan. And just the other day, the president came to Vardenis. I could almost put him in my pocket he was so close (and tiny).

Here are some scenes of the carnage that the president’s visit unleashed on Vardenis. Never before have I seen such a bustle in this sleepy town:

What Vardenis might look like everyday if there were jobs

A clump of fired-up Armenians

These are political banners from the villages

Most Armenians will tell you they don't like the president, but they still showed up to see him speak

With the excitement of the election season we are also presented with some other worries: tensions on the border. The frozen conflict with Azerbaijan is thawing in a dangerous way. Ceasefire violations are way up in the last week (and I’m assuming that goes for Armenia too, but they don’t like to talk about that in the news here). Soldiers are getting sniped on the border. The Azeris even fired on an ambulance and a kindergarten in a border village up north. So keep your ear to the ground and hope that the two sides can refrain from another war. Perhaps I’ll write more about that at another time. But don’t worry, Peace Corps keeps us quite safe and if war was imminent I know we’d be evacuated in an instant.

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2 Responses to “Election Season in Armenia”

  1. Wayne Burt Says:

    I barely recognize, or may not recognize, where these pictures were taken. When I left there were only two sets of traffic lights and the set I see here does not look familiar. I thought maybe its the one at the end of your street, but the buildings around it make me think that it is not. If these are all Vardenis, then I think you have witnessed a lot of renovation. This has got to be the most exciting thing that has happened in Vardenis in quite some time, excepting, of course, your arrival.

  2. icenugget Says:

    Don’t worry, things haven’t changed that much. There are still only two sets of traffic lights. You would recognize the intersection if the picture was a bit more zoomed out. It is the intersection at the end of my street. The first two pics were taken from the balcony of Ev’s future apartment.

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