President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) can not win the upcoming municipal elections in Yerevan by primarily capitalizing on its extensive government levers, one of its junior coalition partners claimed on Tuesday.
The HHK is facing opposition and media allegations that Yerevan’s incumbent Republican Mayor Gagik Beglarian and his subordinates are pressuring public sector employees to help the HHK in the May 31 elections of a new municipal council. Several pro-opposition newspapers have reported in recent weeks that the heads of schools and other public institutions ins the capital were instructed by the Yerevan municipality to submit the lists of their employees, their family members and other individuals pledging to vote for the Republicans.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), which is represented in Sarkisian’s coalition government by three ministers, last week expressed serious concern about these reports. Its candidate for the post of Yerevan mayor, Artsvik Minasian, urged Sarkisian to publicly promise that the HHK will not use its “administrative resources” during the election campaign and on voting day.
But Gagik Tsarukian, a wealthy businessman whose Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) also holds three ministerial portfolios, downplayed the impact of those resources on the election outcome. “Everybody is working with their methods,” Tsarukian told RFE/RL. “The key thing is not to force people -- we all know that, this is not our first elections -- but to create an electoral atmosphere that would make people go [to the polls] in good faith.”
“Whatever you do, a person going to a polling station will vote for the candidate whom he accepts wholeheartedly, on whom he pins hopes and whose programs and actions he knows,” he said.
The tycoon also claimed to be confident that the mayoral polls will be democratic. “We will ensure a fair election,” “But we must fight for that jointly. We are ready to cooperate with all forces to make sure that the elections are fair.” “We are ready to cooperate with only our coalition partners but also the opposition,” added Tsarukian.
The BHK boasts the second largest faction in parliament. Its list of the candidates for the May 31 elections is topped by Health Minister Harutiun Kushkian.