By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The largest and most influential political parties supporting President Robert Kocharian said on Wednesday that they will try to minimize their competition in next month’s parliamentary elections.
Spokesmen for the Republican Party (HHK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) told RFE/RL that they will not cross swords in virtually all of the single-mandate electoral where 56 of the 131 parliament seats will be distributed. The Republicans and Dashnaktsutyun have fielded more than 20 candidates each in such constituencies. The 75 other seats will be contested on the party-list basis.
According to HHK lawmaker Vazgen Khachikian, individual candidates from the two parties will not face each other in the great majority of cases. In addition, Khachikian said, Dashnaktsutyun members are among the candidates officially endorsed by the HHK leadership late on Tuesday. But he could not give the exact number of such endorsements.
The Dashnaktsutyun spokesman, Gegham Manukian, said his party has not yet made a final decision on endorsements but is also in a mood to avoid a direct fight with the Republicans. “One should not rule out the possibility of Republican Party members endorsed by Dashnaktsutyun,” he said.
Dashnaktsutyun and the HHK are the only political groups represented in the current Armenian government headed by Republican leader Andranik Markarian. There have been reports of growing friction between them in the run-up to the May 25 elections. Both parties have denied having serious disagreements though.
The HHK, which has the largest faction in the outgoing National Assembly, has made it clear that it will be seeking to retain its dominant positions in the legislative and executive branches. The party’s electoral chances have been boosted by the surprise inclusion of powerful Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian on its electoral slate.
Dashnaktsutyun, for its part, is looking to win greater representation in government after teaming up with the chief of Kocharian’s staff, Artashes Tumanian, and several wealthy businessmen. Manukian declined to comment on speculation that the party regards Tumanian as its potential candidate for the post of prime minister.