By Astghik Bedevian
Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian will cruise to a comfortable victory in next year’s presidential election, a leading member of his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) predicted on Friday.
“Serzh Sarkisian has no alternative,” said Karen Karapetian, the leader of the HHK faction in parliament. “We will score a very convincing victory.”
Karapetian downplayed an opinion poll which found that the Armenian premier would have finished fourth if the presidential ballot had been held in July. “When be began our campaign for the [May] parliamentary elections our rating was also low. But thanks to our correctly organized work, the HHK got the largest number of votes,” he said.
The HHK’s tight grip on many government bodies and substantial financial resources is believed to the been instrumental in its landslide victory in those polls. Sarkisian and his party are expected to heavily rely on those levers during the presidential race as well.
Karapetian said that Sarkisian’s victory will be facilitated by the Armenian opposition’s anticipated failure to field a single presidential candidate. “I suppose that there will be four or five opposition candidates in the running,” he told a news conference. “This means that the entire opposition electorate will be split. This also means that not all opposition-minded people will vote for [opposition candidates.]”
The lack of opposition unity was also cited on Thursday by a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the HHK’s junior partner in the governing coalition. Artashes Shahbazian said Dashnaktsutyun’s presidential candidate will be Sarkisian’s main challenger and could even defeat him.
“We are not worried about that because a very weighty force is behind us and because we already know which other parties will back our candidate,” said Karapetian.
The HHK leader told RFE/RL last month that the Prosperous Armenia Party of tycoon Gagik Tsarukian, the second largest parliament force represented in the government, will also endorse Sarkisian.
(Photolur photo: Karen Karapetian.)