By Shakeh Avoyan
The leaders of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) demonstrated on Wednesday their dissatisfaction with its election campaign in Yerevan, publicly criticizing party bosses there.
Meeting with party leaders in the capital, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian called for more intensive campaign efforts on the grassroots level, while Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian warned of the HHK’s transformation into a “rural party.”
“I suggest that all heads of our campaign offices and city branches pay greater attention to contacts with ordinary people and step up the propaganda campaign,” Markarian said.
Sarkisian, who is seen as more powerful than the premier, went farther in expressing his frustration with the HHK campaign in a city that houses at least a third of the country’s electorate. “Whoever is ashamed of talking frankly to the people will lose,” he said. “None of you should be ashamed of defending the prime minister. None of you should be ashamed of talking about the government’s achievements.”
The defense chief, whose decision to run for the parliament on the HHK ticket had surprised many analysts, was visibly annoyed by the criticism directed at the Republicans primarily by parties supporting President Robert Kocharian. Some of them have even alleged that the HHK is intent on falsifying the elections
Sarkisian told the Republican activists to campaign and respond to verbal attacks more aggressively. “I call on you to be on the offensive on this issue,” he said. “We must not have an inferiority complex, we must be the masters of the whole city, the masters of the environment without breaking the law.”
The Republicans hope to have the biggest faction in the newly elected Armenian parliament by capitalizing on their substantial government and financial resources. Their campaign manager, Galust Sahakian, said last week that the party is aiming for at least one third of the parliament seats.
However, most published opinion polls showed the HHK having less than 6 percent support in Yerevan where it appears to be less popular than the two other major pro-Kocharian groups: the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Orinats Yerkir.