By Karine Kalantarian
The Zharangutyun (Heritage) party of former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian claimed on Friday that it will make a strong showing in the Armenian parliamentary elections despite its failure to team up with other major opposition groups.
“We are determined to win the parliamentary elections and together with the republic’s other democratic forces form a national government enjoying the people’s trust, the only source of [legitimate] power,” Zharangutyun said in a statement. It pledged to try to achieve “systemic changes” in Armenia as early as this year.
The party also made public its list of candidates who will run for parliament only under the system of proportional representation. Not surprisingly, the list is topped by Hovannisian, who will be contesting his first election in Armenia since being granted Armenian citizenship in 2002.
The U.S.-born leader is followed by Larisa Alaverdian, Armenia’s former human rights ombudswoman known for her outspoken stance against widespread human rights abuses. She is not affiliated with the party.
Hovannisian said last week that he would also like to stand in one of the country’s 41 individual constituencies. But Hovsep Khurshudian, a senior member of Zharangutyun, told RFE/RL that Hovannisian and his aides decided against joining the so-called “majoritarian” races because of the collapse of his negotiations with three other opposition parties over possible formation of an electoral alliance.
“In these circumstances, we need to concentrate our resources on the party’s proportional list,” said Khurshudian.
Most local commentators believe that the Armenian opposition’s failure to consolidate will make it easier for the government camp to again win the majority of seats in the National Assembly. Hovannisian himself implied that it might make no sense for his party to go it alone.
Some opposition parties, notably Vazgen Manukian’s National Democratic Union (AZhM), have decided to boycott the polls, saying that they will not be free and fair. An election boycott was also announced on Friday by a small party led by Armen Darpinian, another former prime minister. In a short statement, the party gave no reason for the move.