By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Yet another senior member of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) predicted on Wednesday that Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian will get enough votes to win the forthcoming presidential election outright and avoid a run-off with an opposition candidate.
Parliament deputy Armen Ashotian said Sarkisian’s campaign team, of which he is a member, is aiming for “approximately 56-58 percent” of the vote in the first round of polling scheduled for February 19. “This is the result we want to earn our candidate in keeping with Armenian electoral legislation and international standards,” he told reporters.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the HHK spokesman who also holds a parliament seat, likewise claimed on Monday that Sarkisian’s first-round victory is “very likely.”
While Sarkisian is widely regarded, not least because of the HHK’s tight grip on many government bodies, as the election favorite, few observers think that he is popular enough to become Armenia’s next president already in the first round. Even government-connected pollsters have put his popularity at up to 35 percent.
The outgoing President Robert Kocharian needed two rounds of voting to claim victory in Armenia’s last two presidential elections. His main opposition challengers refused to concede defeat on both occasions, alleging widespread fraud.