Why only 9% of Armenians trust Serzh Sargsyan

Susanna Petrosyan, Yerevan. Exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Why only 9% of Armenians trust Serzh Sargsyan

According to sociological surveys conducted late last year, the overwhelming majority of Armenian citizens do not trust any of government institution: neither to the president, nor to the government, nor to the National Assembly (NA). The expert Arman Gevorgyan answered Vestnik Kavkaza's questions about the rating of different branches of power, as well as other state and public institutions.

- It's been a long time since somebody believed in the results of sociological polls in Armenia. However, almost similar data from surveys conducted by two completely different organizations, the Caucasian Research Resource Centers - Armenia and the American company Caucasus Research Resource Centers, are of interest. According to both studies, President Serzh Sargsyan has a rather low approval rating. In the first case - 9%. What are the reasons?

- Serzh Sargsyan never had a high rating. All the polls published over the past 10 years that he allegedly had some sort of rating were unreliable. Naturally, this raises the question of how he was elected president? For this purpose, I should recall the results of the 2008 presidential elections. According to the final report of the OSCE/ODIHR observers, the results of the elections were called into question. In 2013, as well as in 2008, Sargsyan's main opponent, Raffi Hovhannisyan, did not recognize the results of the elections. Thus, the issue of the quality of elections should be considered here.

- The government also has a low rating - about 21%, and the National Assembly is in the most disappointing position - 12%. Is it weird for the newly elected parliament?

- The low rating of the National Assembly is quite natural, because the very legitimacy of the National Assembly is highly questionable. In order for the National Assembly to be fully legitimate in the eyes of society, the parliament should have a full-fledged opposition. Today we cannot talk about real opposition, only about blocs that are not part of the ruling coalition. The opposition should offer alternative political programs and defend them. This blocks not included in the ruling coalition do not do this. Of course, one can shout about leaving the EEU or the CSTO, but the society does not take it seriously.

It is interesting that the Yelk block ("Exit") did not appeal for withdrawal from the EEU and the CSTO during the pre-election campaign. This can be seen as a kind of deceit of voters. The fact is that during the election campaign there were forces, in particular, the Free Democrats party, which opposed the membership of Armenia in the EEU. This party, as you know, did not get into the National Assembly.

- The attitude of citizens towards NGOs and the media is also interesting. In the first case, this is only 23%, and in the second case even less - 21%.

- And it is not a surprise as well. Citizens have understood a long time ago that NGOs are simply grant eaters who act on the basis of their own selfish motives, who are not beneficial to society, but at the same time imitate that they are representatives of civil society.

As for the media, the main problem is that there are no financially independent media in Armenia.  90-95% of the media are under the control of the authorities, or receive subsidies from some other groups of people not connected with power, but of course these media are also not independent.

- According to the results of the poll of the Caucasus Research Resource Centers, the Armenian army has the highest approval rating - 77%, and the rating of the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC) is slightly lower -74%. Practically similar results were recorded by a number of authoritative Western organizations 10 years ago.

- First, the army is perceived as a guarantor of security. Second, this is the structure that was built by professionals from beginning to end. Third, the army is closely connected with the people, as well as the church. These are two institutions that traditionally have a high rating in Armenian society.