Tuesday, 20 October 2020

E Editorial

The Era of Populism is Coming to an End

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Populism is an integral part of politics. The government elected by the people must first of all be understood by the people. The slogans of such a government are influential if they evoke emotions and in the context of solving complex problems they offer simple one- or two-step solutions. That is why the political organization that wants to win tries to simplify the problems facing the country and all the vital phenomena in general. To put it more succinctly, the people choose not "mind" but "heart" power.

Until 2018, there was almost no talk of populism, because it was a time when there was no confidence in the elections. Before the election, the government simply recruited and instructed several thousand people responsible for the electoral process. Then it used the database of financial and administrative resources, created an effective system for "counting" the ballots, and its power reproduction machine was ready. Under such conditions, populism ceased to be a factor, and the main weapon of power became cynicism, simple impudence.

This is bad, for the absolute majority of the people it is unacceptable. However, the opposite is not without its negative features, when the people elect the government with an average, primitive mindset, which is what happened in 2018.

From that year on, the most widely used words in political texts became "populism,” "manipulation" and so on. This is a natural phenomenon, democracy and populism are dear brothers; even the term "people" is the basis of the etymology of the word "populism.” Taking advantage of this, some politicians are generating populist rhetoric under the guise of democracy, which has the best effect on the feelings of the average audience, while not distorting its political image of a democratic figure.

Thus, if before 2018 the core of the political system of Armenia, as it was said, was cynicism and obvious lies, then after that it was replaced by simplification of things and simplification of solutions, that is, populism and manipulation came to the fore.

The coronavirus pandemic and the anticipated deep economic crisis are a "moment of truth" for the Armenian political system. There will be no simple explanations, no simple solutions. We have difficult times ahead of us. Populism is defeated when life becomes certain, and failures and achievements can already be expressed in numbers. And the numbers are worrying.

The "live" feeds of the Prime Minister, the flatteries addressed to the people, the threats addressed to the "pilferers", the street actions are already losing their charm and influence. Only "bread" will remain from the "bread and scenes" formula, and we will think about the scenes later, when life returns to normal. But this is not a problem for the coming days.

The time for emotions passes, while the time for rationality approaches, when people need to talk to people in essence, explain the real situation, not make irresponsible promises, offer solutions that people may not like, because they will be forced to tighten their belts and make sacrifices. In such a situation, populism recedes, and honest and sincere speech and the ability to give quick and complete solutions to the problems come to the fore.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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Yerevan, Armenia


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