Raffi Hovannisian - Don Quijote of Armenian politics

Raffi Hovannisian - Don Quijote of Armenian politics

With his unexpected hunger strike, the leader of Heritage party surprised not only the people but also his party fellows.

The hunger strike of Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian came to be the most debated topic in Armenia over the past two weeks. The decision was negatively met both by the authorities and opposition, which was extremely aggressive.

PanARMENIAN.Net - All wanted to know why Hovannisian took off his moustache, announced hunger strike and then terminated it.

Heritage party has always differed from the other political forces by its work style, irregularity of actions and idealistic approach of political struggle. However, with his unexpected hunger strike, the leader of Heritage party astonished not only the people but also his party fellows. Naming his undertaking “hungry for freedom” and citing Christian values, Hovannisian announced the hunger strike during an extraordinary congress of his party on March 15, to great surprise of his colleagues.

Armenian people, who haven't witnessed such initiatives for a long time, and politicians, who are in a habit to risk their supporters' lives but not their own, were amazed as well. At first, the authorities said that the reasons for such a decision are beyond understanding, but then, especially after the termination of the hunger strike, the position changed dramatically. High ranking officials, including parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamyan visited the striker at Liberty Square.

The behavior of the ruling forces was specifically contrasting against the background of media reports, specifically those supporting the Armenian National Congress and its leader, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, whose negative attitude was so evident on March 17, when the demonstrators under his guidance marched towards Liberty Square. Slamming Hovannisian's hunger strike as contrary to Christian pillars, Ter-Petrosyan refused to approach him.

Relations between the ANC and Heritage deserve special attention. Media supporting the ANC leveled harsh criticism on Hovannisian. Some said Heritage leader announced hunger strike just to lose weight; the others slammed him as a marionette in the authorities' game.

Besides, the ANC was extremely irritated by the fact that the entry to Liberty Square was marked not with a rally of its supporters on March 17 but two days earlier, when Hovannisian, alone, holding an Armenian flag in his hand, proudly marched into the square.

Many wondered whether Hovannisian's undertaking will help raise his party's rating. However, as it turned out, the party still lacks a precise program of actions. The party members understand that their main task is to preserve seats in the parliament after the upcoming parliamentary election. Meanwhile, the ruling forces do realize that the ANC should have seats in the parliament but hurried to secure themselves through adoption of a joint declaration, giving to understand that they will retain the majority of seats at the expense of parties currently presented in the parliament but not serving on the coalition.

Thus, Raffi Hovannisian, with his idealistic approach and reluctance to resort to dirty political tricks will have to solve a complicated political puzzle. As for now, his struggle resembles Don Quijote's attack on windmills.

Hayk Khalatyan / PanARMENIAN News
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