Thursday, 11 January 2007

Issues in Democracy...

Had a round of introductions today on issues in Democracy for the whole group. As we had 12 presenters, the presentation had to be done in 5 minutes max, and had to include our vision of Democracy in the UK and Democracy Problems in our countries. Really really tight - isn't it? I had to choose carefully what to say and how to convey a more or less general picture. As we didn't really have time to prepare the little impromptu speech I made was rather one sided, still, I guess I ought to publish it here - for public shame and comments...

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Issues in Democracy

While UK, at least for myself, appears as the fore-post of democracy in the world, Armenia in line with a number of other former Soviet States, has become one of the labs where the huge Russian experiment on developing a form of Contained Democracy - a democratic imitation is undertaken.

Although lapses exist in various aspects of the Armenian legislation (constitution, electoral code, media regulation, freedom of information, freedom of meetings and gatherings), overall the Constitution and the Judicial System in the country are rather advanced - at least on paper. As I come to compare it with the UK which doesn't even have a constitution and US - where no direct electoral right is practiced for the Presidential elecitons, I can assure everyone here, that it's not the legislation that's causing the problems, but rather the unwillingness of the authorities to fully and effectively practice those laws and legislative preconditions to the benefit of democratic development in the country and in the inability of the people of Armenia to claim their constitutional rights and hold the authorities accountable. One of the biggest problems is that of good governence and the rule of law: laws are practiced selectively, or not practiced at all if such practice would mean limitations or enhanced accountability and transparency in the work of the authorities. On the surface elections, legislation seem to be satisfactory - but the reality is: the Armenian people are essentially deprived of their right to practice direct voting as a means for changing the government and thus having any influence on formulating the political agenda in the country.

A firm control over the major media outlets in the country, exploitation of administrative resources during the elections to guarantee favourable results for the incumbent government have become an increasingly threatening trait of the Armenian democracy - democratic immitation.

The existence of the powerful Armenian Diaspora abroad doesn't help much either. On the contrary, the desire of the Diaspora to protect "their country" and show it from the more favourable perspective in the eyes of the leading world powers: US, France, etc. contributes to the problems of democracy back home.

I don't have a solution to these problems, NOBODY DOES!

The Armenian people can't count on the assistance of the international community for ensuring their electoral rights and their rights to participate in the governing of their own country. The Armenian people can only count on themselves, and I come here with the hope to see how is it that the people of the UK are able to so effectively govern their country - even without a "proper" Constitution!!!

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