By Armen Zakarian
Senior members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), the official winner of Sunday’s disputed parliamentary elections, appear divided over a reported power-sharing deal that would give the post of parliament speaker to Orinats Yerkir, a rival pro-establishment party.
HHK sources revealed to RFE/RL that some Republicans elected to the National Assembly have threatened to vote against Orinats Yerkir leader Artur Baghdasarian if he gets the government’s green light for becoming its speaker. They insist that the job must be given to the HHK because it will form the largest parliament faction, the sources said.
The post-election deal was reportedly agreed by senior government officials, including President Robert Kocharian. It would give the Republicans, led by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, one of the two posts of deputy speaker as well as control over two or three standing committees of the parliament. The second vice-speaker, sources say, is to represent the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), another major party allied with Kocharian.
HHK and Orinats Yerkir leaders, speaking on the record, deny reaching such an agreement. However, HHK sources, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed its existence. They said the party’s leadership will formulate a final position on the issue after consulting with Kocharian, who is currently attending official celebrations of the 300th anniversary of Russia’s second largest city of Saint-Petersburg. Kocharian is due to return to Yerevan this weekend.
Orinats Yerkir, which won about 12 percent of votes cast for political parties, is set to have the second largest faction in the 131-member parliament with at least 20 seats. The HHK, for its part, will hold at least 33 seats and enjoy the backing of more than 20 government-connected deputies not affiliated with any party. Many Republicans are furious with strong criticism of Markarian’s government voiced by Orinats Yerkir leaders during the election campaign -- a strategy that earned the latter many votes.
Still, Markarian and other HHK leaders have not ruled out the possibility of sharing some ministerial portfolios with Orinats Yerkir and Dashnaktsutyun.