BY ARA KHANJIAN, PH.D.
Members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation believe that their party is the best organization that can build a better Armenia. Therefore, to have a stronger Armenia, we need a stronger ARF in Armenia.
This implies that ARF members around the world should try to figure out how to effectively use the potential strength of the ARF around the world to make the party in Armenia stronger and to make sure that the ARF gets more public support and votes.
At the end of April, before the Hayastan Alliance was formed, a poll conducted by Gallup International indicated that if elections were held then, the ARF would receive 1.8 percent of the votes. This was a very low percentage. There was the general impression that if the ARF entered the parliamentary elections on its own, it would not garner the required five percent of the votes needed to be included in the parliament.
For every ARF member and supporter these low numbers should be considered unacceptable. The ARF with its 131 years of service to the Armenian people, and with its active participation in the first, 2016 and the most recent Artsakh wars, should have a broader support base than those meager percentage points. Having been active in Armenia for 30 years should have been enough to increase the four percentage points the party received during the 1991 presidential election, when Sos Sargsyan was the party’s candidate. However, in the past ten years, support for the party has shrunk instead of growing.
Certain past instance have impacted the way in which people perceive our party as well as the level of support in has garnered. For example when the party has demeaned the population by calling voters inept, not only violates some of the basic tenets of our ideology, but also insults the very people whose vote the party covets.
ARF members, supporters—hamagirs—should actively discuss, analyze and figure out a roadmap for the next five to 10 years that will guide us toward strengthening the ARF in Armenia, thus increasing its support base and allowing the party to implement its mission more effectively.
Our goal should be to garner significant popular support in order to elect an adequate number of our own representatives, to serve in city councils, to form local governments and to serve our country more effectively. Every ARF member and supporter should become familiar with this roadmap and should directly or indirectly contribute toward its success.
Obviously, the details of this road map should be designed by the ARF in Armenia. However, the general and non-controversial elements of this road map are already adopted by the past ARF World Congresses, such as the 2011 World congress. According to the World Congress, the ARF should become an active grassroots organization.
Examples of the World Congress resolutions are:
— Through public relations, political, legal and other means, we should generate a mount a strong campaign against the shadow economy, monopolies and those who rob the national wealth. In Armenia, our main policies, should be based on our ideological principles and should give primary importance to national and social imperatives. The Armenian people should see that our organization, through its political demands and its work, not only defends our national interests, such as the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and demands of our occupied lands, but also defends the human and social rights of every Armenian individual and Armenian citizen.
— In Armenia, the ARF’s operations should be focused on working for the people and with the people: …our party executive bodies and ungers… should always be on the forefront to advance the population’s just demands.
— We should initiate meetings, gatherings, briefings with the population by adopting the slogan of “toward the People, դեպի ժողովուրդ.”
If the ARF begins implementing these resolutions and starts building stronger local organizational units, then in five or ten years we could gain the support of voters and have a stronger presence in neighborhood councils, city councils as well as parliament and, eventually, we might have enough representatives in the legislature to form a government and serve our country more productively.
Dr. Ara Khanjian is a Professor of Economics at Ventura College.