| Sunday is another
election in Armenia and we all know what that means.
That's right. Another chance for several hundred
foreigners to pour into town on tax-payer expense
accounts, tell the world what a screwed up place
this is, then go back to their campaign perfect
homes. Like (home of the "dimpled" ballot)
Florida, for example.
Several hundred of them are here now, leaving
Yerevan today to spread out through the country
like so many schoolteacher nuns with rulers ready
to smack the ill behaving.
By Tuesday we should be able to read their reports.
Why wait? I'll tell you now what they're going
" . . . Showing slight improvement over
the massive irregularities of the recent presidential
elections, the frequency of infractions during
parliamentary elections was still enough to cause
serious concern for the democratic process in
Armenia. Most observers agreed that the decline
of infractions are more a reflection of a passive
attitude toward the lesser election, than a signal
of genuine improvement in the voting process.
The reports will use phrases such as "serious
concern" and "substantial changes are
recommended". Then those who made the reports
will board planes with their "serious concerns"
and be back in paradise long before "substantial
changes" ever reach discussion tables.
Living here nearly four years, I think I've earned
the right to tell you that those observers are
correct. This place is screwed up when it comes
to (among other things) elections.
But what incentive is there for change? Armenians
may be a little daft at the democratic process,
but they're not stupid. Here's my point, (mine
now that I stole the idea from a friend):
Why should Armenia clean up its election system
when the economy is getting such a boost by the
present conditions? I'm not talking about corruption
or the shadow economy or any of that. I mean this:
Any time several hundred foreigners visit a country
this small, there's got to be a financial boom
for at least a few significant enterprises. They
eat in the best restaurants, sleep in the best
hotels, pay good money for interpreters and drivers
and buy roundtrip airline tickets.
I'm thinking elections once every five years
is shortsightedness and restricted opportunities
for Armenian business. This place should start
having absolutely abbhorrent elections for every
post it can think of.
Hold elections for school-teaching positions,
for coaching jobs, for street sweepers. There's
a bonanza waiting.
For that matter, turn the big campaigns into
twice yearly events rather than twice a decade
and run the things with such blatant disregard
for honor (God knows the Armenians have the experience)
that international agencies will post permanent
do-gooders here with open-ended contracts and
limitless spending power.
Now here's my report to the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe, the National
Democratic Institute or whomever:
If you really have "serious concerns"
for what goes on in this country, tell President
Bob that if this place doesn't clean up its act,
you're going to stop sending hundreds of expense-account-wielding
observers here to tell on him to the big old world.
Then sit back and watch the democratic process
kick into gear.