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Armenia: US-Elections are more important than our own


Yerevan, Armenia  Traditionally, Armenian society attaches special importance to the US presidential elections due to the large Armenian diaspora in America. It is one of the few minorities in the US which has maintained close links with its historical homeland.

Clinton is the only high rank US official who visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex during an official visit to Yerevan. flickr/cc/z@doune

Moreover, wealthy Armenians residing in the US have considerable social, economic and political weight both in the United States and Armenia. Therefore, almost all previous US presidential candidates have tried to enlist the support of the Armenian diaspora.

Recognition of the Genocide

As part of their campaign strategy, most past candidates have sworn to officially recognize the Armenian genocide, though none has complied with this promise yet. In this sense, the 2016 election is a surprising exception, since neither candidate has made this important assurance to the Armenian community in the US. It is most likely for this reason that preferences for Clinton or Trump among US Armenians are split.

Hope for Change as a Result of External Processes

Observing the position of the politically active members of society in Armenia, it is worth mentioning that they have increased expectations from the US presidential elections than from their own ballots. People no longer believe that with the help of elections they can change the situation in the country as never, in the history of independent Armenia, has an opposition come to power through the electoral system. Additionally, each local and presidential election is characterized by extensive fraud. The majority of the politically active population hopes that changes in the system may occur as a result of external processes. Since the US is a large player on the global geopolitical field, supporters of both Clinton and Trump are able to clearly distinguish the pros and cons of each candidate for the benefit of Armenia.

Fear of the Rising Political and Economic Presence of Russia

Those who want to see Clinton as the next US president, are mostly concerned with the rising political and economic presence of Russia in Armenia. They associate the corruption, the rigging of elections and the disastrous economic situation of the country with pro-Russian authorities. They fear that the isolationist policy of Trump and his sympathy to Putin would lead to virtually absolute intervention of Russia in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Clinton supporters expect tougher US policy towards Russia than the one that was carried out under the Obama administration. Also, Trump’s desire to focus more on domestic problems will lead to a reduction of US support for civil institutions in developing countries, which may further exacerbate the worrying situation regarding democracy and human rights in Armenia.

National Security

Some people also raise national security as a concern, pointing out that Trump has strong corporate ties with Azerbaijani business elites. His election as president could break US neutrality in favor of Azerbaijan, which is in a state of war with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Others mention the fact that Clinton has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide while being a Senator. Furthermore, Secretary Clinton was the only high rank US official visiting the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex during the official visit to Yerevan.

Those, who sympathize with Trump, mainly refer to questionable decisions Clinton made as Secretary of State. Most of them regard Clinton’s decisions on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria as wrong and unsuccessful. Some argue that Trump will take a tougher stance toward Moscow than Clinton. There are people who like Trump's statements about gay people, Muslims, Mexicans and women.

Armenians Expect Big Changes

As the US presidential election approaches, more topics related to the Trump-Clinton race occupy the timelines of Armenian Facebook users. Sometimes serious arguments are unfolding where people accuse each other of being biased and serving of the interests of another state (Russia or the US). Armenians have more disagreements in the US presidential race than in their own internal political affairs. Whoever is the next US president, Armenian society and the diaspora expect big changes.

Published November 2016


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