By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) reaffirmed on Tuesday plans to contest next May’s parliamentary elections without forming an alliance with other political groups supporting President Robert Kocharian.
“Nobody is saying that we are creating an alliance to support Robert Kocharian’s [presidential] candidacy,” said Tigran Torosian, the party’s deputy chairman and a vice-speaker of the Armenian parliament. “I don’t see anything bad in it.”
The HHK led by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian is the most influential of more than a dozen parties campaigning for Kocharian’s reelection. Leaders of those parties have accompanied the incumbent on his campaign trips and have actively participated in recent days’ televised debates with top allies of opposition candidate Stepan Demirchian.
Two other major pro-Kocharian groups, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the Orinats Yerkir party, are also widely expected to go it alone for the parliamentary vote. Their leaders have publicly accused the Republicans in the past of using unfair methods to expand their control of many government bodies. Relations between the three parties worsened in the wake of last October’s local elections won by the HHK. But for the moment they seem united by the common goal of helping Kocharian win a second term in office.
The nomination of candidates for 131 seats in Armenia’s National Assembly officially starts on March 11. Seventy-five of them will be allocated under the system of proportional representation of parties and electoral blocs. The other seats will be contested in single-mandate constituencies across the country.
Torosian said the Republicans will be seeking to “maintain and, if possible, strengthen” their dominant positions in the outgoing parliament. The HHK controls the parliament’s largest Miasnutyun (Unity) faction which currently holds 38 legislative seats.