Armenia’s governing party sees no prerequisites for early elections and will seek to win a majority in parliament in the next general elections, its senior member said at a press conference on Thursday.
Razmik Zohrabian, deputy head of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said the outcomes of the most recent local elections in some regions of Armenia had reassured the party on its strong chances to win in the next parliamentary elections slated for 2012.
The HHK currently holds 63 mandates and enjoys the support of five non-aligned lawmakers in the 131-seat National Assembly of Armenia. In the current coalition government the HHK shares power with two minority parties, namely Prosperous Armenia and Orinats Yerkir.
Talking to the media, Zohrabian also reaffirmed that Armenia’s current president and leader of the HHK, Serzh Sarkisian, will be the party’s candidate in the next presidential election planned for 2013. He said Sarkisian had “no serious rival” at this moment.
“Naturally, today we have no other candidate. We do not see any serious rival for him now, because [opposition leader] Levon Ter-Petrosian is no longer his former self,” said Zohrabian.
Sarkisian gained victory in the 2008 presidential election receiving more than twice as many votes as his closest competitor Ter-Petrosian, Armenia’s president in 1991-1998. The opposition led by Ter-Petrosian, however, accused Sarkisian and his political allies of rigging the vote and nearly toppled the government by staging nonstop street protests in Yerevan for days. The protests stopped only after force was used against demonstrators and a state of emergency was declared in the country on March 1-2, 2008.
Ter-Petrosian’s opposition was reorganized into an Armenian National Congress (HAK) several months later. Despite more legislative restrictions put in place for political gatherings, the opposition continued to stage rallies and demonstrations against Sarkisian’s government in the past two years.
Government loyalists, meanwhile, have insisted that Ter-Petrosian’s political alliance is “running out of steam” and has been losing its popularity even among the disgruntled population. The ruling party’s members have routinely put it down to the successful policies carried out by President Sarkisian and his government.
According to Zohrabian, Sarkisian’s predecessor Robert Kocharian, who potentially could be a rival to the HHK candidate in the next presidential election, will not run for office in 2013.
Kocharian has made only a few public appearances since retiring from the presidential post in April 2008. But he has replied, sometimes using strong words, to criticism coming from Ter-Petrosian, and on rare occasions also leveled moderate criticism at the current government. Kocharian, however, has regularly downplayed talk about his plans to return to major-league politics that has been fueled by the opposition press.
“I don’t think he [Kocharian] will run against Serzh Sarkisian. There will be no such thing,” said Zohrabian.
“We are taking the way of consolidating our strength, and if friendly forces go against each other now that we have the difficult problem of Karabakh in front of us, I think things will turn into chaos,” he added.
Zohrabian also snubbed the opposition’s continued push for snap elections. He said Armenia is a democratic country and the opposition is entitled to demand anything, but added that preterm elections were out of the question.
“This is the opposition’s forte. Only two years remain before the elections and they badly need to be getting ready for these elections, be making some noise, staging rallies, in short starting an early campaign,” said Zohrabian.