Sunday, April 10, 2011

Week 04-10 April: C/O Oppositions

A key concept of democracy is real competition and alternation to power.
The political trend in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan goes in the opposite direction, with a shift of power within the majority or majority factions… or no shift at all.
Oppositions, especially historical ones, that hardly ever accessed the power in the last 20 (up to 90) years, are marginalized, often either unknown either unpopular.

This is particularly true in Azerbaijan, where continuity of power makes its political system look like a monarchy legitimized by periodical elections.
In March historical oppositions – Musavat and Popular Front – held a common meeting in Nardaran, a place characterized by strong Islamic/patriarchal traditions. At the end of the month in the district of Fountan square protesters confronted police, a scene due to be repeated two days later, on the so called Day of Anger. Results: massive arrests, oppositions’ worsened relations with Ministry of Internal Affairs and with presidential administration.
Baku Mayor didn’t allow a further meeting (Islamic Party) for the 8th, and on the 16th tensions may newly raise on the occasion of another planned action.
According to the Minister of Internal Affairs the majority of the population fully supports the President and his Government. Still, due to the extreme polarizing of positions, worrying episodes are occurring in different layers of the civil society. In Djalilabad a teenager – son of an opposition activist – killed another one, perpetrator of the harassment he had been the victim of.

In Armenia the press suffers from the amendments of the law on “Defamation and Insult”, while political landscape becomes more and more complex. Opposition is fragmented, composed by various parties, including ex majority party Armenian Revolutionary Federation, which had/has/will have strained relations with the Armenian National Congress. The latter twinned its 17 March event with a new demonstration, on Friday, basically a week after Heritage’s leader Raffi Hovanisian ended his hunger strike. Notwithstanding the support Heritage ensured to Levon Ter-Petrosyan before last presidential elections, now the two parties have very different positions.

In Georgia opposition keeps its tradition to have very strict ties with the international community. Sometimes an external observer may sense that Georgian opposition invests more on its popularity abroad than at home.
On the 7th eight “allied” parties met NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai. While it makes sense, of course, to have their voice heard and their positions legitimized by international interlocutors, it should be kept in mind that the international community is not almighty. And, for sure, none of its members - powerful as it might be - enjoys the right to vote in Georgia.

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