May 1, 2017
Analyzing the interaction of the ruling elite with the society at large, it is possible to come to several conclusions.
First, the ruling elites are able to reproduce themselves as a consequence of the passivity – that is, inactivity – of the citizenry in general and the absence of relatively strong oppositional forces and charismatic leader(s).
The “revolution from above” initiated by incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan aims to reduce the danger of an overthrow of the reigning oligarchic elite.
It is important to understand that there is no threat of a classic color revolution in Armenia: mass participation is very low and an ideological mobilization is absent. Rather, the push toward reform originates out of the same ruling elite and there are no significant demands to alter the political system as such and to redistribute property. We are witnessing the type of political transformations typical of palace a coup d’état: the changes have been led by a ruling elite and have occurred in the context of low-level public participation and social mobilization. They have aimed to renew the governing elite by bringing new personnel into the ruling elite.
In the absence of a charismatic leader and strong leadership in general, a tangible program of action, and unity among different civil society groups, the ruling elite retains the capacity to influence the varying reconstitution of groups and to alleviate, through small-scale concessions, tensions in Armenian society. Moreover, if these changes are implemented after the parliamentary election by the newly-appointed Cabinet, the new government will be viewed as a “national salvation government.”
The current government is viewed as constituted from the younger generation of offspring of a long-reigning elite, in possession of higher degrees from numerous European and American universities.
It is quite open-minded and not involved in the many corruption scandals. At first glance this generation was introduced as one ready to reform the Armenian economy and prepared to shape foreign policy in a more balanced manner more relevant to security challenges.
Consequently, some parts of the citizenry and the Armenian Diaspora will be prepared to contribute to an improvement of the country’s economic, political, and social environment. Otherwise, at least in the foreseeable future, the most “natural” response will be a continuing mass emigration. An insignificant number of repatriates and refugees from Syria cannot close this gap.