By Anna Saghabalian
A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) reaffirmed on Monday the party’s intention to nominate its own candidate in next year’s presidential election.
Vahan Hovannisian, who is also a deputy speaker of Armenia’s newly elected parliament, argued that Dashnaktsutyun has policy differences with the Republican Party (HHK) of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, President Robert Kocharian’s most likely successor. He also claimed that his party’s independent involvement in the presidential race is essential for strengthening democracy in the country.
“There already exist safeguards against Armenia’s slide into dictatorship,” said Hovannisian. “But in my opinion, those safeguards are not that strong, and I think the Dashnaktsutyun candidate will be best placed to strengthen them.”
Dashnaktsutyun leaders have repeatedly stated over the past year that they will not back Sarkisian for the Armenian presidency and will field their own candidate instead. Sarkisian reportedly tried to get them to reconsider this stance during power-sharing negotiations that followed the HHK’s landslide victory in the May 12 parliamentary elections. But he eventually agreed to give Dashnaktsutyun three ministerial posts in his new cabinet without securing its commitment to endorsing his presidential bid.
“Whoever runs for president, we are not an enemy of the Republican Party,” Hovannisian told reporters. “We are longtime partners. We just have our approaches to many issues. We see different solutions to those issues.” He did not specify what those differences are.
Under the June 6 power-sharing agreement signed with the HHK and the pro-Kocharian Prosperous Armenia Party, Dashnaktsutyun will bear responsibility only for the policies and actions of the three government ministers affiliated with it. This allowed the nationalist party to further distance itself from Sarkisian’s government while retaining most of its power levers.