The political parties led by Gagik Tsarukian and another well-known Armenian businessman announced on Wednesday their decision to jointly contest the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The alliance with the United Labor Party (MAK) should give a further boost to Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a junior partner in the country’s ruling coalition, ahead of the vote scheduled for May 6.
The MAK, which is led by businessman Gurgen Arsenian, was represented in the Armenian parliament from 2003-2007. It narrowly failed to win at least 5 percent of the vote needed for having seats in the current National Assembly.
“I think that the MAK should join forces with the BHK and contest the National Assembly elections with a common list of candidates,” Arsenian told a party congress attended by Tsarukian. The several hundred delegates attending the congress unanimously agreed with him.
Arsenian told journalists afterwards that his party’s alliance with the much bigger BHK will take the form of several MAK members running for the parliament on the BHK ticket. He also made clear that he has differences with President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and would therefore not team up with the latter.
Tsarukian welcomed the MAK’s decision in a speech at the gathering. “The upcoming parliamentary elections will determine what kind of economy Armenia will have in the coming years and what government will be formed soon,” he said. “For that reason, we need to be united and to ensure fair and transparent elections as a result of which the government will be formed.”
The BHK was already joined by another prominent politician, former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, two weeks ago. The development came as a further indication that Tsarukian is seeking a greater role in the government and could challenge Sarkisian for that reason. It also stoked speculation about former President Robert Kocharian’s return to active politics.
Oskanian last week spoke of “real competition” unfolding between the HHK and the BHK. He insisted that the presidential party will lose its majority in the parliament if the May elections are free and fair.
Incidentally, Oskanian was also present at the MAK congress. Both he and Tsarukian declined to talk to journalists.