30 November 2006

1256) Gallup Carried Out An Autopsy On Armenia

The American Gallup polling agency carried out a public research in Armenia alongside with Armenian Sociology Institute, IRI foundation – known with its closeness to Republicans in the USA-, and the US Agency of International Development (USAID) in May 2006. This is a previous research carried out before the one which partially revealed recently and it is quite interesting with its results of Armenia’s basic tendencies, social status and political preferences. . .

1200 Armenians older than 18 years old were spoken with face to face and produced very interesting results for the parliament elections of May 2007 and the presidential election of February 2008. On the other hand, the poll has a different kind of importance for the upcoming elections since it was carried out by official, semi-official and non-official US institutions.

The main headlines of the poll are as follows:

“Armenia is on a Wrong Path”...
55% of Armenians think their country is progressing in a wrong direction and it is led badly. The rate of those who are happy with the country’s direction is only 32% and who has no idea on the issue is 13%. It is possible to think that this 13% is close to those who are not happy with the current situation.

“Economy is skidding”...
Only 4% of the Armenians whom were asked about development think that the Armenian economy is very developed. 38 % think the country was developed a little bit. 33 % believes that the economy is on a stand still and 13 % think it is getting worse. 10 % of people think it has gone worse but 3 % has no idea. It is also seen that those who are happy with the current situation is limited at 42 %.

“Household budget has gone worse”...
The situation of household budgets was asked to participants in the survey carried out and the reflection of Armenian economic policies on the base as well. Only 2 % of Armenians say their household budgets, in a way, life standards have improved dramatically. 21 % think it improved positively but 48 % say it is stable while 17 % saying it has gone worse. 11 % think it has gone very bad. 1 % did not put forth any views on the same issue.

When the results are considered, there occurred a difference between the 42 % portion who are happy with the economic situation of the country and the 23 % portion that are contended with their own economical situations.

For this reason, the fact that the subject portion considers the economic situation of the country as good but their own economic situation as bad, derives possibly from the fact that the public separates their own situation from the economic situation of the country and differentiates the economic policies of the state from their own budget as a result of the propaganda stating that “Armenia is in the right path”, which was imposed on the public through the means owned by the Koçaryan regime.

Again, in the same way, the 10 % variation between the 32 % portion thinking that “Armenia is in the right path” and the 42 % portion claiming that the “economy is in the right path” derives from the same reasons.

The answers given to another question asked during the survey actually point out the reason for the differences of the replies and, in a way, of the contradiction. The participants were asked that “at what level they were satisfied with the democracy improvement in Armenia”. 3 % of Armenians replied this question as they were really satisfied. 34 % said they were partially satisfied while 24 % saying they were a little bit satisfied and 34 % saying they were nor satisfied at all. 5 % of the participants did not answer the question.

It might be considered that the participants refrained from giving frank responses because they probably feared pressure and legal proceedings. In addition, by considering the fact that o total 37 % of the participants deemed Armenia to be democratic, it can be said that a section has an understanding approach towards the regime and the government while another section evaluated the issues of democratic development and economic development as being different from each other. Because, if not, there should have been less variation between the ones who think that the country is in the right path, that the economy progresses well, that his own situation develops in the right path and that the democratic development is increasing.

Meanwhile, it can also be said that the Armenians pay attention to realize the system’s expectations from them by keeping their satisfaction from life secondary, instead of putting effort in increasing life satisfaction.

“Expectancies on Elections are Low”…
Another important question asked by the survey was “when Armenia would be better” and “how much time it needed for getting better”. It is possible to say that this question was monitoring the previous ones.

The current poll among Armenians say only 13 % of them believe that the situation would get better in a short term. This situation also shows that there were not great expectations from the government and the elections. 79% of the participants think that Armenia would change for better in the long term. 8 % remained silent for this question.

“Hopeless Country, Hopeless Future”...
“Hope” was asked to Armenians too during the survey. 3 % ignored the question without any reply and the rest drew a very negative table. 5 % think that Armenia would never be better. 6 % do not feel safe and they are scared of the future. Another slice of 6 % says they were indifferent. A large group of 24 % voiced that they did not have much hope for future and expectations. 40 % hopes the future would be better and a slice of 16 % is expecting a better future. At this point, it is interesting that the ratio of optimistic answers for this question over those who answered the previous question optimistically gets closer. That is why; the evaluation that the portion in question is convinced with the current government’s success can be made.

“Poor Expectations”...
Another survey question is related to optimism. 56 % of people said they were optimistic and 30 % pessimistic. 11 % did not even reply the question. 24 % of people think Armenia is better than it was last year, 57 % think nothing has changed and 17 % think everything has gone worse.

Although the Armenians tried to show that they were optimistic with the answers on questions about expectations and optimism, the difference seen between their views on the current situation and their answers on questions, most probably might have caused by their belief that they would be limited in effect as individuals and citizens, that an optimistic and hopeful point of view would keep them in safety and indifference.

“The Government and People are Far From Each Other”...
The participants were asked “the most crucial problems of Armenia”. They go as follows: Unemployment 43 %, Karabagkh question 25 %, socio-economic situation 26 %, industrial development 26 %, corruption 13 %, respect for democracy and human rights 5 %, immigration 5 %, foreign policy 6 %, recognition of so-called genocide 4 %, other 5 % and no answer 6 %.

These options and numeral weights show that the Armenian society’s priority is solution of worsening industrial and sociological problems. It is also seen that the policy followed by the government in Yerevan – especially the attacks targeted on Turkey- does not receive enough support from the society or are not taken as a priority by people.

The Survey asked Armenians about their fears. The first one on the list is a resolution on the Karabagkh question in favour of Azerbaijan with 58 %. The rest of the fears are as follows:

Economical situation 16 %, immigration 13 %, unemployment 7 %, socio-economical situation 7 %, natural disasters 4 %, corruption 4 %, no-fear 1 %, others 17 % and no answer 14 %.

“Low Interest in Politics”.
According to the survey, 35 % of the Armenians have low interest in politics, and 27 % of them are a little bit interested in them. 37 % of people follow the political developments carefully. 1 % of participants left the question unanswered.

“What should the government do?”...

36 % of the Armenians want the promises are kept and the 39 % want the unemployment lowered by creating new employment. The government should increase the wages 23 % says, while 23 % is asking for industrial development, 9 % fair elections and 13 % fight with corruption. Demands regarding the socio-economic situation came from a portion of 9 %, other expectations from 9 %. 9 % of the participants also remained silent for the question.

“Low Interests on Elections”...
Only 45 % of the Armenians think that they will definitely cast their votes. 27 % says they may use their votes. 9 % does not think of using their votes. 8 % is still to decide while 1 % did not answer for the question.

Those who think they will cast votes were also asked why they would do so. 61 % said they would use their votes since they see it as a duty, 18 % said they wanted to stop election fraud, 5 % said they wanted to participate, 4 % said they loved casting a vote, and 9 % said they would like to support their parties. 3 % had different reasons.

As it can be realized under close scrutiny, there is not a definite choice or reaction between the factors influencing the voters’ voting preferences. In Armenia, the voters are complete strangers to the concepts such as change through ballot box or transition through voters’ pressure.

Those who said they would not give any votes were also asked “why” during the survey. Here the most remarkable response is “the belief that the elections will not be fair” given by the 35 %. In this framework, when we consider that 18 % of the voters will have the “election fraud fear” while voting, it is important that roughly 1 of each 5 voters and 1 of each 3 non-voters think that the elections will be fraudulent.

30 % of the non-voters think that their vote will not change anything, 14 % say that they are not interested in the politics and 12 % say that they have no sympathy for the candidates or the parties. In addition 5 % claims that they do not know the candidates or they do not have time to go and vote. The portion of the ones without any comment is 4 %.

“Expectations from the Candidates”...
Survey results also indicated the qualifications expected from the candidates by the Armenian and showed that the expectations were in harmony with the picture above;

Compassionate and kind % 47, honest % 32, educated % 24, democratic % 10, with morals % 10, expert % 8, hard-working % 8, other % 3, no comment % 11.

“Leader is More Important”...

59 % of the survey participants said they use their votes by the leader and 32 % by the party. 4 % did not answer the questions and 5 % chose none of the options.

“Candidates Must Be Old”...
Armenians say they would vote for the older candidates under the same conditions. 55 % said they would do this way. Only 32 % says that they would vote for younger candidates. 10 % said age is not important and 3 % did not reply.

“Candidates Must Be Male”...

61 % wants male candidates, while 7 % saying female ones would be ideal. 29 % does not care about the sex of the candidates and 3 % produced no views.

“Armenian Parties have No Likable Sides”

29 % of the participants who were asked if there is a likable side of the parties answered negatively to this question. The other replies are as follows:

Determination 18 %, honesty 15 %, democracy 7 %, justice 5 %, religion 4 %, other 4 %, and no answer 18 %.

Unlovable characteristics of political parties were also asked to the participants. 17 % of them did not want to answer the question and sat on the top of the list but the rest is as follows:

Corruption 15 %, dishonesty 15 %, rudeness 13 %, no difference to the others 9 % and stubbornness 6 %. 3 % said others and 5 % said the parties had no unlovable sides.

Armenians, according to the same survey, think the mistakes of their government in 2005 were as follows:

High living cost 21 %, illegality 16 %, privatization 15 %, indifference to people 10 %, indifference to corruption 8 %, unpaid payments 4 %, fraudulent handling of referendum 3 %, others 15 % and no answer 37 %.

Most of those who did not reply the question are signalling the missing trust to the system.

“Corruption is a Serious Problem”...
70 % of the participants see corruption as a very serious problem. 25 % thinks that it is an important problem. The level of the ones not caring much about this problem is 5 %.

“Foreign Policy”...
The survey also presents the Armenian point of view regarding the foreign relations and important regional and global powers. 95 % of the Armenians think that they have good relations with Russia, 86 % think they have good relations with Iran, 85 % with the USA, 67 % with the EU and 43 % with Georgia. The portion of the ones who believe that they have good relations with Turkey is 7 %.

97 % of the Armenians think that they have negative relations with Azerbaijan, 90 % with Turkey, 46 % with Georgia, 18 % with Georgia, 7 % with the USA, 9 % with Iran and 4 % with Russia.

“Friends and Enemies”...
The ones who answered the questions listed the friend and enemies of Armenia as follows;

The country at the top of the friend list is Russia with 86 %. After that comes France with 62 %, Iran with 50 %, the EU with 44 % and the USA with 34 %.

The country at the top of the enemy list is Azerbaijan with 90 %. The second in this list if Turkey with 80 %. And the last one in the list if Georgia with 30 %.

Those lists indicate only one conclusion. While the Armenian do not define the claims of genocide as a priority, the word “enemy” just means Azerbaijan, whose lands they took over and Turkey, whom they slander and Georgia, from whom they request lands.

70 % of the participants think that the solution of the Karabagkh problem in favour of Armenia is very important and 20 % think that it is important. 41 % of the population wants Karabagkh to be Armenia’s, 31 % wants it to be an autonomous state dependent of Armenia and 27 % requests it to be an independent state. Regarding the solution 85 % thinks that the issue should be solved by means of negotiations and 13 % considers the solution by war appropriate.

“Russian Bases makes free”...
In the survey the Armenians were asked about the Russian bases in their country. 65 % of the Armenians argued that the subject bases have a positive impact on the independence and stability of the country. The portion of the ones disagreeing is just 2 % k.

“The Border should not be Opened”...
Another important result presented with the survey is the detection of the fact that the 49 % of the Armenians are against the opening of the closed border. Only 42 % of the Armenians want the border to be opened.

“Nuclear Power Iran”...
Only 31 % of the participants share USA’s, EU’s and Russia’s annoyance with Iran’s efforts to gain nuclear capability. 26 % share it partially, 16 % objects partially and only 11 % objects definitely.

“Russia is the one and only”...
According to the answers given to the question in the survey, Armenia’s unconditional obedience to Russia continues uninterruptedly. According to the participants Russia is the biggest ally of Armenia. However, it should be noted that while the 45 % of the population see Russia as a clear ally, 42 % have less belief in this idea r.

49 % of Armenians desire that their membership to Russian Federation continues in the future. The portion of the ones answering this question as “maybe” is 33 %.

38 % of the participants want Armenia to enter the EU. 42 % answer this question with more composure.

Only 10 % of the Armenians are in favour of entering NATO. 30 % are less eager about this subject.

“Trustworthiness of Agencies”...

The order in this subject is as follows;

The EU %87, RF %83, army %83, UN %78, church %77, press %67, OSCE %63, NATO %51, Central Bank %48, education system %45, police %40, president %35, government %33, political parties %32 and the parliament %31.

“The Heroes”
When asked the names of their heroes the Armenians gave the following names. Almost all of those names belong to the people who fought against the Turks .

Andranik %14, Garegin Njdeh %10, Vazgen Sargsyan %9, Karen Demirciyan %6, Tigran Metz %6, Sharl Aznavur %5, Dro %4, Monte Melkonyan %4, Mespro Mashtoc %2, diğer %35 and no comment %15.

“No Tolerance”...
A tolerance test was also conducted for Armenians in the survey. In this scope the portion of the ones who think that “the people from different religions can live together with tolerance” was only 27 %. The ones who think that Armenia has different cultures is limited to 37 %. 39 % state that “everybody living in Armenia should adopt all the Armenian traditions”. In addition 49 % think that “there might be a problem if there were more minorities or differences in Armenia”. Only 39 % think that “all are welcomed in Armenian community no matter what their roots and religions are”.

Another important detail of this survey, which can be seen as a significant biopsy for Armenia, is that 64 % of the participants were unemployed and 89 % did not have any membership in any association or organization.

In conclusion;
Since Armenia, where one third of the population has limited access to basic foodstuffs and which ranks in the 101st place in the world in terms of freedom of expression, sees the ones who fought against the Turks as national heroes, since it does not want the border to be opened and does not even consider the genocide claims as matter of priority; any positive or negative change in the relations between Turkey and Armenia can only take place in relation to the direction of the external pressures and directions during the elections to be carried out in this country in 2007 and 2008.



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