The post-election political situation in Armenia took an unexpected turn Thursday when the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), President Serzh Sarkisian’s main partner in the outgoing ruling coalition, announced that it will not join a new government that will be formed soon.
BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian said that his party, the official runner-up in this month’s parliamentary elections, would not have sufficient power to deliver on “substantial changes” promised to Armenia if it were to become part of Sarkisian’s new cabinet.
“As a result of the elections, the BHK does not have a constitutional capacity to form a government and implement its programs,” he said in a written statement. “Because of this, I am officially declaring that the Prosperous Armenia Party does not find it expedient to participate in the formation of the coalition government.”
Tsarukian pointed to his pre-election assurances that he will “cherish the people’s trust” even at the expense of personal “losses.” “The BHK will continue to play a weighty role in our country’s political life,” he added. “We will have a highly constructive, balancing role and participation in the country’s political-public life.”
Armenia - Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian at an election campaign rally, 30Apr2012.
The announcement followed more that two weeks of behind-the-scenes consultations reportedly held by the BHK and President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Coalition sources privy to those discussions said earlier this week that the two sides are close to striking a new power-sharing deal.
Tsarukian made no mention of the talks and did not clarify whether the two sides disagreed on the distribution of ministerial portfolios. The BHK has been represented in the current government by four ministers.
Galust Sahakian, an HHK deputy chairman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the ruling party will officially react to the development after a meeting of its Executive Body due late on Thursday. He said he still sees “ways of cooperation” between the two parties.
Sahakian also denied reports that Tsarukian’s party demanded the post of prime minister during the post-election discussions with the Republicans.
Tsarukian’s statement also did not specify whom his party will support in Armenia’s next presidential election due in February 2013. The BHK leader has been reluctant to publicly voice support for Sarkisian’s reelection plans in recent months amid media speculation about former President Robert Kocharian’s possible return to the political arena.
Official results of the May 6 elections showed the HHK cruising to a landslide victory with 44 percent of the vote that earned it at least 69 seats in the 131-member National Assembly. The BHK came in second and won 37 seats. Tsarukian’s party questioned the credibility of the official vote tally in a joint statement issued with the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.