Armenia’s next parliamentary and presidential elections will be held as planned in 2012 and 2013 respectively, Justice Minister Hrayr Tovmasian said on Friday.
“I see no political, economic or social grounds for pre-term elections,” Tovmasian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service, echoing statements repeatedly made by senior representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
The conduct of fresh elections is the key stated aim of the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK). The HAK claims that it is committed to forcing snap polls despite its plans to embark on a dialogue with President Serzh Sarkisian and his three-party ruling coalition.
“It is natural that the authorities are acting from such tough positions before starting negotiations,” Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s central office coordinator, said, commenting on Tovmasian’s remarks.
“Everything depends on how active the people will be,” Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “No tough position can withstand pressure from a popular movement.”
Opposition figures critical of the HAK and some political commentators say the opposition bloc led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian is actually resigned to the fact that Sarkisian and the current Armenian parliament will serve out their five-year tenures. They say the HAK is simply using the idea of snap polls to continue to galvanize its radical supporters demanding quick “regime change.”
That the next national elections will be regular ones was also asserted on Friday by Karapet Rubinian, a prominent politician who quit the HAK recently over serious differences with Ter-Petrosian and members of the ex-president’s inner circle. Rubinian predicted grimly that Armenia’s next parliament will also be controlled by Sarkisian.
“The logic of political developments suggests that everything will end in regular parliamentary elections [next year] where the toastmaster will again be the regime’s leader Serzh Sarkisian,” he told reporters. “One can already predict how fair those elections will be and what results they will have.”