Why Armenia's Gagik Tsarukyan Will Never Be Georgia's Bidzina Ivanishvili
The politically active segment of society torments itself with this question: Will Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukyan (pictured, right) become the Armenian Bidzina Ivanishvili (pictured, left)? First President of the Republic of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrossian, the person behind this puzzle, is convinced that only Tsarukyan could be the Armenian Ivanishvili, and Tsarukyan, it seems, is beginning to seriously believe this. For several days now, his party has been in active consultations with representatives of opposition political parties. After such meetings, the participants say they are discussing how to lift the country from its current poor socioeconomic situation, among which, it seems, the option of regime change is not included.
However, no matter how much others inoculate Tsarukyan with the idea that he is the Armenian Ivanishvili and no matter how much he believes it, he will never become the Georgian businessman who led his party to power and became the country's prime minister. The reason is not just because Tsarukyan became an oligarch and accumulated his huge capital and property in Armenia, while Georgia's former prime minister accumulated his wealth outside of his homeland. That's secondary: it makes no difference whether resources accumulated abroad or at home are invested in the task of improving and changing the situation through revolution in your own country. And if the problem is that, as a consequence of the activities of the revolution, immunity of your property and the security of capital you have inside the country are subjected to risk, well this problem can always be temporarily resolved by exporting your capital, which, by the way, is not foreign to Tsarukyan. In reality, there are much more deep-seated reasons and factors that will never allow Tsarukyan to become a new Ivanishvili.
1. The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) was formed and established not to be an opposition party. This party during its short-term life has never been an opposition party, and it's no coincidence that even being swept up in the "winds of Ivanishvili" the leader of this party doesn't dare call his party opposition. The most important task this party can fulfill is being a part of government, perhaps by constantly increasing its share of the government pie, eventually gaining complete power. But that will be not a qualitatively new government, but a modified version of the old, where only the actors change. It's never possible to effect change in the system this way. Whereas Ivanishvili came down to the square — with the goal of a purely qualitative regime change. The movement he led was developed and established as a radical opposition force, the main resource of which was the broad confidence and support of the public.
2. Ivanishvili didn't turn his party into a comfortable crib for small- and medium-sized oligarchs. Meanwhile, Tsarukyan purposefully turned his party into such a cozy corner, which is a testament not of politically ambitious forces, but a platform from where, by securing entry and exit into power, they can ensure their business. This flexible and anti-ideological posse at most can solve the issue of buying votes for the BHK during elections. They see neither themselves nor the BHK in the role of reformers, much less as revolutionaries. And the deeper this element is seated in BHK's ship, the more constrained is the captain, who cannot come out against "The Ninth Wave" with such boatswains and mariners for the simple reason that in the real or even perceived likelihood of sinking, they will be the first to jump ship and attack the party and its leader from behind.
3. Ivanishvili didn't participate in the parliamentary elections by making grandiloquent statements about fair and transparent elections, then on par with the ruling party, in parallel and publicly, buying votes. He didn't act this way not because he had posed a problem of using the votes he received in transactions for portfolios with the ruling power, but to make the citizen responsible for and in charge of his own voice, to make him feel the value of his civil and human dignity. Ivanishvili the day before the parliamentary election didn't make a statement about relentlessly fighting against electoral fraud and rigging and then after the elections, despite considering them to be fraudulent, refusing not to acknowledge the election results and appeal.
4. Ahead of the elections, Ivanishvili didn't think about the dilemma of being nominated or not, that is, of a battle against the real holder of power, the president and his team, then refuse to participate in the elections and defending any other candidate. This way, Ivanishvili didn't create all the conditions for the reproduction of power and to make the electoral process practically uncontrollable.
5. It's hard to imagine that Ivanishvili could shrink regime change and lower it to the level of simply changing the prime minister by playing house with the public and by persuading that the sole person responsible for the current catastrophic socioeconomic situation is the individual in the prime minister's seat. Meanwhile, Tsarukyan's party is trying to convince us that needed for that is no more and no less than a political and public consolidation and by introducing a new, alternative socioeconomic and political agenda. Basically, the agenda and the consolidation of the public are needed only for the "dear president" to be forced to replace the prime minister. In other words, this is called not only the ostrich effect, but also the disintegration of political and public energy and potential, while legitimizing the Republican Party of Armenia administration and the entire political course it has adopted.
6. Ivanishvili entered politics with specific maximal and minimal programs, which clearly showed how he would enact regime change. He was bolstered also by current president Mikael Sahakahsvili's dignified posture accepting political defeat, which kept the country from unrest and perhaps also from the threat of civil war. Meanwhile, in Armenia, on one hand, there can be no expectation for such a stance from the country's current ruling authorities; on the other hand, what Tsarukyan's minimal and maximal programs are are incomprehensible. Is he in favor of snap elections or smooth and slow actions conditioned by regular elections? does he consider the issue of impeaching the president at all? does he see the way by imposing snap parliamentary elections or through civil disobedience or in all cases in carrying out a calm upheaval through acquiring leverage and prowling government? And perhaps the issue isn't regime change at all? Tsarukyan is initiating public and political consolidation — without clarifying the answer to these key questions. This is a matter of not only pure audacity, but also the lack of the innate attributes of being a charismatic leader and having political skill and experience.
In light of these palpable differences, a question arises: What is the real purpose of creating from Tsarukyan this image of a national savior? Many, and especially those who throw the bait of finding similarities between Tsarukyan and Ivanishvili, perhaps think of reinventing themselves through him, perhaps also about turning him into an instrument. But the experience of previous years shows that usually the complete opposite occurs. Tsarukyan's image has become that distorted skating rink where those same characters continuously stumble in performing various unsuccessful political toe loop and axel jumps.