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Ruling Party ‘Unfazed’ By Tsarukian’s Presidential Bid


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (L) and businessman Gagik Tsarukian watch a sporting competition in Tsaghkadzor, 14Jul2012.

Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (L) and businessman Gagik Tsarukian watch a sporting competition in Tsaghkadzor, 14Jul2012.

Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian will pose no serious threat to President Serzh Sarkisian’s reelection plans if he decides to run for president, a top representative of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) said on Tuesday.

“I don’t quite imagine [Tsarukian] in the position of a presidential candidate … because any candidate in presidential elections should act more resolutely and come up with more alternative programs, alternative budgets, rather than dither,” Eduard Sharmazanov, the HHK spokesman and deputy parliament speaker, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

“I can’t tell whether or not he will run,” Sharmazanov said. “It’s up to his political team to decide. But regardless of who runs and who doesn’t run, including Gagik Tsarukian, I don’t think that President Sarkisian will face a serious rival for the first place [in next February’s election.]”

Other senior HHK figures have likewise said that the incumbent president will face no serious challengers in his bid to win a second term in the upcoming election.

Despite their stated self-confidence, the Armenian authorities appear to have pressured the BHK and its leader over the past year to throw its weight behind Sarkisian’s reelection bid. Tsarukian has not caved in so far and is now widely expected to announce his presidential candidacy.

Sharmazanov was even more dismissive of other potential presidential candidates’ chances. “No opposition politician sees a real possibility of winning the presidential elections,” he said.

In Sharmazanov’s words, this is why opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian, who was Sarkisian’s main challenger in the 2008 presidential election, is unlikely to contest the February 2013 ballot. Ter-Petrosian realizes that another presidential run would amount to his “political suicide,” claimed the vice-speaker.
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