By Hrach Melkumian
The new leader of the Armenian Communist Party (HKK) pledged on Monday to draw lessons from its dismal showing in the May elections in which it failed to win any parliament seats.
Ruben Tovmasian, 67, admitted the existence of major “shortcomings” inside his once influential party one day after the HKK Central Committee elected him to replace Vladimir Darpinian as its first secretary. Speaking to RFE/RL, he said the Communists committed unspecified “blunders” during the election campaign and need to change their position on some issues. He would not say what those changes will be.
The HKK was relegated to the sidelines of Armenian politics after getting, according to official figures, only 2.5 percent of the vote which is far below the 5 percent threshold for entering parliament on the party list basis. The staunchly pro-Russian party, which advocates restoration of state control over the economy, had polled an average of 10 percent in the presidential and parliamentary elections of the late 1990s.
In recent years, the HKK has been seriously weakened by a serious of splits inside its leadership that spawned several Communist splinter groups. Those tiny parties, also heavily defeated in the May 25 vote, are now ready to reunite with the HKK on equal terms. But Tovmasian ruled out any reconciliation with their leaders, indicating that he will not accept from them anything short of full repentance.
Tovmasian also insisted that his party will remain in “radical opposition” to the ruling regime. But he at the same time said that it will not coordinate its actions with Armenia’s two main opposition forces: the Artarutyun (Justice) alliance of Stepan Demirchian and the National Unity Party led by Artashes Geghamian.
Some Artarutyun leaders have previously accused the HKK leadership of secretly collaborating with the Armenian authorities. Darpinian, its former first secretary, always denied the claims.