During his tête-à-tête meeting with President Serzh Sargsyan, Raffi Hovannisian offered three proposals in order to emerge from the created political pre-crisis situation, and all three proposals were rejected.
Hovannisian didn't discuss those proposals with the people gathered in Liberty Square. Those proposals belonged to him, perhaps also to his Heritage party, but not the people at the rally. It is hard to say whether the people would approve those proposals if they were previously discussed and formulated in Liberty Square. Although one of three proposals was capitulating for the authorities, the other two showed willingness to compromise.
Hovannisian went to the Presidential Palace without even clarifying whether his followers were ready for any compromise with the authorities.
But the demonstrators let it go. Moreover, they didn't leave Liberty Square even after Hovannisian suggested that everyone go home and gather the following day. Those people clearly demonstrated that it is not them that follow Hovannisian; they forced him to follow them. And it is not Heritage that determines the basic rules of the game, but Liberty Square.
Thus, this is not Hovannisian's movement, but that of the people. And that is the clear difference between this movement and all previous protests that were similar.
Now the people are demanding from the authorities as much as from Hovannisian. If it were important for the people, they would demand that Hovannisian clarify what Sargsyan in his turn proposed to him and to what extent those proposals were acceptable or not. Yet there are no questions, there is only a process, and Hovannisian was continuously forced to go forward.
Actually, he didn't become a leader, but rather a symbol whose values and, more importantly, simplicity created a wonderful atmosphere for society's self-expression. Hovannisian emphasizes the union of Armenian citizen and Armenia, not the concept of social stratification.
It is more than obvious now that Hovannisian's possible retreat cannot stop this movement. It can be modified, transformed, become diminished, but it cannot stop anymore. And there are two main reasons. First, this movement is led by an already existing civil consciousness. Second, instead of suppressing this awareness and pushing his personal ambitions forward, Hovannisian shows a tendency to rely on that.
This fact enables the development of a strategy exclusively based on public demands, which are for now attached to voting rights. Hovannisian's main problem is not how to lead that movement (actually, it is self-governed for now), but to provide a greater space for its development, partially coordinate it and control and develop mechanisms to protect it from possible provocations.
In this sense, Hovannisian has three important steps to take. First, he needs to clearly determine the main goal and what measures are necessary to get there. It is one thing to request the president transfer power unconditionally, and it is another thing to demand new elections or else the president's resignation.
However, committing to reaching a resolution is different from presenting a concrete plan of action or, at least, convincing society that the plan exists and is followed accordingly. As long as these clarifications are not made the movement remains chaotic, and no concrete problem can be solved.
Secondly, Hovannisian's issue is to provide a wide political and civil consolidation around only one issue, which is to protect and respect citizens' rights by civil rights and state institutions. Practically, he doesn't have other resources to provide such consolidation, as his agenda and ideological positions regarding the economy, foreign policy and other issues are considered risky by many people.
In this sense, the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun's symbolic joining of the movement was important. Actually, the ARF clearly mentioned that it is joining not Hovannisian, but the civil movement and for now is only a participant. It seems this arrangement completely satisfies him. The joining of the Armenian National Congress's former electorate was important as well. It shows that, unlike the defunct Congress, its electorate remains faithful to its ideals and goals.
The fact that Heritage intentionally ignores the Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) doesn't only demonstrate its interest to take back its positions, but also PAP's tendency to not get involved. As was obvious from its statement, PAP offers to transform the movement, whereby agreements can be reached with the authorities around fundamental improvements, something that was always a waste of time.
In the footnotes of PAP's statement we can see an offer of cooperation around "the plan of improvements" directed towards the Republican Party. And while Levon Ter-Petrosyan demonstrated a strong pragmatic attitude, he nevertheless doesn't want to burn bridges with the movement, considering Hovannisian a secondary factor.
Third, as much as this movement is civil, it cannot avoid being political, as there is no other legislative option to realize its goals. The formation of a coordinating body to make consolidated decisions and to define responsibilities is necessary.
But, unlike the Congress, this body can persist only if it is created based on a real socio-political consensus to make it relevant.