Tomorrow is Election Day in Armenia. Raffi Hovannisian, a distant cousin, as close as any first cousin, is running for President. No one gives him much of a chance because his party is smaller and because of the history of elections not being as open and honest as we might want.
He has run an amazing campaign from what I have seen. What I have seen most of are youtube videos which his campaign has email blasted throughout Armenia and around the world. Theses videos show him well... everywhere in Armenia and Karabagh. He is always amongst the people, the common folk, the villagers. These are the people Raffi has always loved and they seem to love him. He has musicians like Ruben, Harout, and Nersik supporting him and performing at various events with him. His campaign seems very well organized and, from my perspective half way around the world, making an impact.
Will he win?
This is a hard question to answer. I am not sure if there are polls in Armenia. If there are polls, I am not so sure how accurate they are. My guess is that it will be hard to predict. The general feeling is that Raffi will not win because he is facing the corrupt establishment. Votes will be bought and counting will be suspect. This is why most feel that Serzh Sarkisian will win his second term.
Even for having lived in Armenia since 1990 or so, Raffi is still kind of an outsider. He never was an apparatchik and whatever it is that ilk has become. He has been committed to Armenia his entire life. He moved there when he was named the first foreign minister when the current Republic was established. He has stayed ever since. He gave up his US Citizenship to be a Citizen of Armenia. He has an incredibly deep and strong passion to help lead Armenia, his country, to better place.
My feeling? I am holding out for Raffi. He is and has always been popular with the common folk. In my mind, they are the wild card. They could be the difference that puts Raffi over the top. Life is not good for them. There is little hope for them. They see nothing from Serzh and the establishment machine. Raffi, at least, is offering them a plan to change the country that includes creating an atmosphere to attract more business and thus create more jobs. He offers a vision where he wants people that have left the country to come home. It is a hopeful message.
People with money and power, I am sure, look at Raffi as a populist candidate. I don't think he is. I do not look at him like I do the populist candidates in South America like Evo Morales of Bolivia, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Jose Mujica of Uruguay. I actually believe Raffi will set a sensible plan to move Armenia forward. I do believe his plan will be well conceived and gain traction.
This is why I hope the people give him a chance. I hope they give him a mandate.