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By Hovannes Shoghikian
The governing Republican Party (HHK) is aiming for a landslide victory in the May 12 elections that would earn it an absolute majority in Armenia’s next parliament, one of its leading members said on Wednesday.

The HHK has controlled at least 47 of the 131 seats in the outgoing National Assembly, both through its official parliament faction and the People’s Deputy group of lawmakers mostly affiliated with the party. It has also enjoyed the backing of over a dozen other wealthy deputies loyal to the government.

The HHK’s new chairman, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, and other senior Republicans have said until now that their aim is to win at least as many parliament seats as they have had for the past four years. But Galust Sahakian, the leader of the HHK faction in the current legislature, went farther on Wednesday, saying that the party is looking to single-handedly control the new assembly.

“We must now talk about having an absolute majority,” Sahakian told reporters. “That is not only what we but also the public and the political field believe.”

“Past experience has shown that we are the ones who bear responsibility [for government policies] at the end of the day,” he argued. “We don’t dodge responsibility. Nor do we avoid the burden which we have to carry.”

The comments will likely stoke opposition allegations that the Republicans and Sarkisian in particular are intent on winning the elections at any cost, including massive vote rigging. The HHK, which controls most of Armenia’s local governments and has vast financial resources at its disposals, has been accused by them of forcing public sector employees to join and vote for the party or risk losing their jobs.

The HHK has dismissed the claims backed up by media reports. Its powerful leader has assured the West that the upcoming vote will meet democratic standards.

(Photolur photo: Galust Sahakian.)
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