By Hrach Melkumian
The governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) led by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian secured an additional seat in parliament on Sunday after a 27-year-old candidate representing it won a by-election without any opposition.
The victory, which was never in doubt, brought to 40 the number of seats held by the HHK in the 131-member National Assembly. The Republicans have by far the biggest faction there.
The new parliament deputy, Vahe Hakobian, ran unopposed in single-mandate constituency in the southeastern Syunik region. He is the son of Maxim Hakobian, director of a state-owned copper and molybdenum mining factory in the regional town of Kajaran. He will be the youngest member of the Armenian parliament.
None of the HHK’s two junior coalition partners, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the Orinats Yerkir Party, fielded a candidate in the area in what was apparently the result of a deal cut by the three parties. Armenia’s main opposition groups also steered clear of the ballot in line with their continuing boycott of parliament sessions.
The parliament seat became vacant after its previous holder, Surik Khachatrian, was appointed the governor of Syunik in March. The regional town of Goris and surrounding areas, which make up the constituency, have long been considered a personal fiefdom of Khachatrian and his extended family that controls the local administration and most businesses.
A figure close to Markarian, Khachatrian is also affiliated with the HHK. He personally endorsed and campaigned for his young successor.