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 July 11 , 2003 

New Start: Analysts hope coalition government will create stable political future

Analyst Bozoyan says current deputies don't represent the interests of the people.

With the recent parliamentary elections, Armenia has a coalition Government for the first time in its independent history.

Ministerial posts were distributed among the three major parties after none of the political forces succeeded in getting the imposing votes to take a peremptory majority in the National Assembly.

President Robert Kocharyan has called the coalition government a considerable step toward advancing Armenia's political culture.

The three sides of the coalition -- the Republican Party, Orinats Yerkir and Dashnaktsutyun -- are charged with promoting effective legislative and executive powers of the country. The three have pledge that the Government will be stronger during their four-year leadership.

Though certain parties have representative Ministers, a memorandum signed by coalition members promises they will equally share the work of the Government and report its progress.

Political analysts consider the coalition a positive step, however they refrain from forecasting its effectiveness.

Independent expert Yervand Bozoyan, the head of Media Center, a non-governmental research agency, says that the coalition government is typical for Parliamentary republics, when several ruling parties take seats in Parliament and the opposition is a part of a political system of the country.

Armenia is a "semi-presidential country" and besides it has a poor political system and a weak opposition.

The main problem of the present political system, Bozoyan says, is that political parties do not reflect the interests of society.

"Politicians enter parties to gain power, then enter Parliament to strengthen the power and protect their business," Bozoyan says. "If for example Republicans lost leverage of power I am sure over 95 percent of its members would leave it.

"The clan system dominates. People do not believe the Government or the President but they do not see an alternative. In Armenia there is no shaped civil society. People do not know what is a civil society and politicians do not know either."

It is a wide spread opinion in Armenia that Kocharyan strengthened his position by making a coalition from political forces who supported him.

Bozoyan says what Armenia needs now is a strong political elite. It needs a strategy on economic development, but it does not mean that the Government should spend great amounts of money to invite specialists to write programs. All the programs are written long ago. Many other countries make an economic progress by using the experience of other countries.

"It seems that sometimes Armenians wait for a messiah who suddenly will appear in the Armenian political arena and everything will be changed in one day. Such things do not happen in politics. If a coalition Government works effectively, it will take decades till the results will be observed."

The coalition has declared among its top priorities the constitutional amendments, fulfilling of the anti-monopolist politics and fight against corruption and a shadow economy.

In his turn, the President expressed satisfaction with the appointed leadership saying he is "ready to share responsibility in the next four years".

Analyst Alexander Iskandaryan, Vice-Director of the Swiss-based Caucasus Media Institute, says the present system is known as a "consensual democracy". He says the new Parliament principally differs from the political processes of the post Soviet era.

The atypical element of the recent elections was primarily the fact that the referendum initiated by the President failed.

"It is the first time when the authorities did not manage to get the positive results for what they initiated," Iskandaryan says. "And it is moreover interesting because it happened in Armenia, where as international observers believe the authorities can abolish gravitation by falsification."

Iskandaryan says that the grave disadvantage of the Parliament is that it is comprised of members whose business interests control Armenia's economy.

"Unfortunately fuel, sugar and corn are the most powerful 'parties' in Armenia," he says. "If they are lawmakers in Armenia they are elsewhere but not in the Parliament. The present Armenian political system is morally poor and lacking traditions."

The coalition Government will remain in force until the next parliamentary elections in 2007. But any of three parties have a right to leave the coalition if its principals are broken.

Bozoyan says that he and his colleagues hope that the consolidation of at least three parties will become a foundation of a new political culture in Armenia.


According to Agnes
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  Photos of the week
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The National Chamber Orchestra made a tour of Karabakh last weekend, including an open-air performance at the College of Applied Sciences in Shushi. THe Orchestra is back from a recent tour of Moscow and St. Petersburg.



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