By Ruzanna Khachatrian and Astghik Bedevian
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Tuesday accepted the official results of the weekend parliamentary elections but declined to clarify whether it wants to cut another power-sharing deal with their winner, the Republican Party (HHK) of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
In a statement presented by its leaders, the nationalist party said the vote moved Armenia closer to meeting international standards for democratic elections. It also welcomed a relatively high voter turnout reported by the Central Election Commission.
The statement added that the polls were marred by vote buying and voter intimidation but did not specify whether Dashnaktsutyun thinks that seriously affected their outcome. “We wish the political force that won a majority [in parliament] success, urging it to act with responsibility commensurate with internal and external challengers facing our state and people,” it said.
According to the preliminary CEC figures, Dashnaktsutyun won 13 percent of the vote, giving it 16 seats in the 131-member parliament. The party, which is particularly influential in the Armenian Diaspora, holds 11 seats in the outgoing National Assembly.
The HHK, by comparison, grabbed at least 65 seats and will indirectly control several others, putting it in a position to form a new government single-handedly. The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) of tycoon Gagik Tsarukian will boast the second largest parliament faction comprising 25 deputies.
Speaking at a joint news conference, party leaders were vague on chances of Dashnaktsutyun remaining in the HHK-led government, saying only that they will continue to support President Robert Kocharian. “We have supported the current president, and the current president continues to perform his duties,” one of them, Armen Rustamian, said. “We will continue that cooperation.”
“We have received no offers to form a coalition,” he said. “Frankly we don’t think the picture in the new National Assembly leaves room for such an offer.”
Rustamian and other Dashnaktsutyun leaders indicated during their election campaign that their party will remain in government only if it gets the post of defense minister. They also said it will quit the governing coalition if the newly elected assembly is dominated by the Republicans and the BHK.
The HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, told reporters on Tuesday that the ruling party has not yet decided whether it should share power with Dashnaktsutyun and the BHK. “The Republicans have repeatedly said that they are ready to form a coalition for the sake of Armenia’s future,” he said. “We already have such experience with Dashnaktsutyun.”
Sharmazanov confirmed that Sarkisian will continue to serve as prime minister at least until next year’s presidential election. He also dismissed opposition accusations of vote rigging, saying that Saturday’s elections were the “best” in Armenia’s post-Soviet history.