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Coalition Party Eyes ‘Weighty Presence’ In New Parliament


Armenia - Orinats Yerkir Party leader Artur Baghdasarian at a news conference in Yerevan, 25Nov2011.

Armenia - Orinats Yerkir Party leader Artur Baghdasarian at a news conference in Yerevan, 25Nov2011.

The leader of the Orinats Yerkir Party, a junior partner in Armenia’s governing coalition, insisted on Wednesday that it will have “quite weighty presence” in the new parliament, dismissing widespread speculation to the contrary.

Artur Baghdasarian disagreed with political observers’ view that Orinats Yerkir will actually struggle to gain any parliament seats in the elections due in May.

“We don’t make grandiose statements,” Baghdasarian said. “We will content ourselves with public support that we will receive from our people. But rest assured that that degree of public support is fairly high.”

“Of course we will get more than we have now,” he told a news conference.

Orinats Yerkir is represented in the current 131-member National Assembly by seven deputies. It contested the last parliamentary and presidential elections as a major opposition force. Baghdasarian finished third in the presidential ballot held in 2008.

The party’s popularity clearly declined afterwards, resulting in its dramatic failure in 2009 to win at least 5 percent of the vote needed for being represented in Yerevan’s municipal assembly. Analysts attributed that to Baghdasarian’s decision to recognize Serzh Sarkisian’s victory in the presidential election and join a coalition government formed by the new president. The Orinats Yerkir leader also approved of the authorities’ deadly suppression of post-election demonstrations organized by Levon Ter-Petrosian, the main opposition presidential candidate.

Baghdasarian, who is also the secretary of Sarkisian’s National Security Council, denied that the 2008 developments dealt a serious blow to his party’s approval ratings. He also again vigorously defended his decision not to side with Ter-Petrosian at the time.

“Why should I have joined Levon Ter-Petrosian? A politician who called me and my team names during the entire election campaign, going so far as to brand me a traitor,” he said.
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