Armenia’s main opposition forces are capable of winning next year’s parliamentary elections, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said on Monday.
“I think that if proper work is done and if the society is awakened, it is very possible that the combined representation of opposition forces in parliament will exceed 50 percent,” Vahan Hovannisian told journalists.
President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and its two junior coalition partners control at least 100 of the 131 seats in the current Armenian parliament. In a joint statement issued in February, they expressed their intention to gain even more seats in the next National Assembly to be elected next May.
Dashnaktsutyun and the two other major opposition groups -- the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party -- condemned that statement as a clear sign that the authorities will try rig the 2012 elections. Accordingly, they dismissed subsequent government pledges to ensure their proper conduct.
Hovannisian, who ran for president in 2008 and now leads Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary faction, denounced in that context Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s warning last week that political groups challenging the HHK would “end up empty-handed.”
“In essence, a critic is regarded [by the government] as an enemy in our country,” he said. “We will not allow anyone to govern with ease while constantly committing mistakes.”
Opposition victory in the 2012 elections will be complicated by uneasy relationships between Dashnaktsutyun, Zharangutyun and the HAK. The latter has repeatedly questioned opposition credentials of the two parties.
Artush Shabazian, another Dashnaktsutyun lawmaker, deplored the lack of opposition unity on Monday during a public debate with three other political figures. He said that the ruling coalition is far more united than the “fragmented” opposition.
Shahbazian also described as “almost impossible” the formation of an electoral alliance between his party and the HAK.
Armen Martirosian, a Zharangutyun leader, downplayed the significance of such alliances for Armenia’s political future. “If we really care about the state we should hold decent elections in the first instance, regardless of what alliances will or will not exist,” he said.
For his part, HAK spokesman Arman Musinian declined to specify whether the bloc is ready to join forces with other opposition groups. “We find it meaningless and untimely to talk about that now,” Musinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Dashnaktsutyun’s Hovannisian, meanwhile, reacted rather positively to HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s announcement on Friday that the opposition alliance will aim to win a parliamentary majority and impeach President Sarkisian “single-handedly or in alliance with other forces.”
“That is a way of struggle,” said the Dashnaktsutyun leader. “I have no doubts that one should go for a victory in the parliamentary elections.”