By Hrach Melkumian
President Robert Kocharian acknowledged on Tuesday that he is keenly interested in retaining control of the Armenian parliament as a result of next month’s elections. He said a loyal legislature is essential for the success of his second five-year term in office.
“I intend to implement my [election] program in full, and that requires continued stability in the country and cooperation between the parliament and the president,” Kocharian said at a meeting with a large group of university students selected by education authorities.
“That means we have to have a parliament with which it will be possible to work, which will not oppose the president,” he continued. “That means it is very desirable for me, and I think for the country, to have a parliament where political forces supporting the president have a substantial majority.”
Kocharian added that an opposition victory in the May 25 parliamentary elections would plunge Armenia’s leadership into turmoil for the next four years. “So I am not indifferent [to the elections],” he said. “I support and will support those political forces that share by programs.”
More than half of the 21 parties and blocs contesting the elections support Kocharian in one way or another. Kocharian has not yet singled out any of them. Analysts say he would like to see as many pro-presidential groups as possible represented in the next National Assembly. Only three such groups -- the Republican Party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Orinats Yerkir -- are expected to make a strong showing.
Kocharian’s opponents led by defeated presidential candidate Stepan Demirchian view the parliamentary race as a new front in its bid to oust the current regime. Demirchian’s Artarutyun alliance says it will a parliamentary majority if the elections are free and fair.
In his Tuesday remarks, Kocharian for the first time personally expressed his discontent with the Armenian Constitutional Court’s bombshell ruling last week which appeared to give weight to opposition allegations that the recent presidential election was not democratic. While refusing to annul its official results, the court suggested a “referendum of confidence” in the current president as a way of resolving the post-election political standoff in Armenia.
But according to Kocharian, such a referendum would be unconstitutional and would further heighten the tensions. He also implied that Constitutional Court chairman Gagik Harutiunian is furthering a secret political agenda. “When an idea is expressed in a muddled fashion, there are usually some goals hidden behind it,” he said without elaborating.