The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has named the current acting speaker of the Armenian parliament, Samvel Nikoyan, as its candidate to stay in the post until the end of the legislature’s term next May.
At its late-night meeting on Thursday the HHK’s executive body also decided that Eduard Sharmazanov, who currently works as the secretary of the party’s faction in parliament, will fill the post of deputy speaker that will be vacated by Nikoyan as a result.
The HHK, which controls the majority of seats in the 131-member body, is in a position to name the new speaker and one of his or her deputies under a power-sharing deal with its two junior coalition partners, the Prosperous Armenia Party and Orinats Yerkir (Rule of Law Party).
The approval of the nominated candidates through a secret ballot appears a foregone conclusion given the dominating position of the ruling coalition parties and the HHK, in particular, in the Armenian legislature. The two minority parties in parliament, namely the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Heritage, have so far seemed unenthusiastic to contest the vacant leadership positions.
Sharmazanov, who is also the HHK spokesperson, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) that the party will formally nominate its candidacies at one of the four sessions of the National Assembly commencing on Monday.
The post of the parliament speaker, which is the second highest political post in Armenia according to the country’s constitution, has remained vacant since the resignation of its previous holder, Hovik Abrahamian, in mid-November. About two weeks before that Abrahamian said he had received an offer from President Serzh Sarkisian, who is also the leader of the HHK, to manage the party’s campaign at the next parliamentary elections.