In the American online culture there is the concept of “Godwin’s law“, according to which the longer the online discussion lasts, the more likely participants are to make a comparison with Adolf Hitler. Hitler has been a symbol of dictatorship and evil for almost 80 years. In human understanding, he is the embodiment of evil. That “law” is somehow also applicable in politics. Comparing opponents with Hitler, politicians try to present them as populists who are ready to get power at all costs and keep it, in the end becoming an evil for people.
After the April and May events of this year, some members of the Republican Party, mostly deprived of power and political levers, have started comparing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan with various authoritarian leaders, including Hitler. As a rule, comparisons with Hitler are baseless, just like the comparisons of Pashinyan with him or other dictators.
Here are some examples:
- In August, Vice President of the Republican Party Armen Ashotyan called Pashinyan’s government a “junta“.
- RPA Spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov stated on October 1: “Where are we going, towards dictatorship or towards the cult of Nikol Pashinyan? […] The people applauded Hitler, and Stalin had sole power.”
- “Iravunq” newspaper, the chairman of the editorial board of which is RPA MP Hayk Babukhanyan, compares Nikol Pashinyan’s rally pictures with photos of Hitler’s rallies by presenting them as an example of a popular idol like Mein Kampf.
- President of National Consensus Party Aram Harutyunyan, who declared that he was ready to cooperate with Robert Kocharyan and assist him in his return to politics, noted when speaking of snap elections in Yerevan: “During the Hitler period, the people also displayed ovation and the code is not accidental: my fight (ed., Mein Kampf), here is my step.”
- Kocharyan himself also made similar comparisons. Speaking about Pashinyan, he claimed that “a dictator emerges in Armenia”. He particularly focused on Pashinyan’s “populism”, which is similar to that of Hugo Chavez who, according to him, led Venezuela into an economic crisis.
In order to understand why such statements are unfounded, let us start with the definition of dictatorships. In the case of a brutal or authoritarian state, the opposition is essentially formal, fundamental freedoms are limited, there are no free and fair elections.
In the case of “New Armenia” these claims are not justified. Pashinyan’s rating is really high, evidenced by different surveys and Yerevan City Council elections, in which “My Step” bloc got 81%. However, having high popularity does not automatically result in a dictatorship. On the contrary, dictators typically are not popular and rule by using physical force from time to time.
Regarding the formulation “junta” used by Armen Ashotyan, Vice President of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), it should be noted that the word means a group of military men who came to power as a result of a violent coup and exercise dictatorial rule with the use of terror.
The Yerevan City Council elections held on September 23 also show that Pashinyan’s rule is not dictatorial. For the first time in the last decades, the results of the elections were accepted by all the participants. Moreover, the Republican Party of Armenia, National Assembly Chairman Ara Babloyan, Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukyan, mayoral candidate from “Luys” bloc Artak Zeynalyan and other mayoral candidates (Ararat Zurabyan and Mher Shahgeldyan) congratulated Hayk Marutyan, who led the list of the “My Step” bloc.