The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said on Wednesday that it too will not nominate a candidate in the upcoming presidential election because it does not think that the vote will be free and fair.
Leaders of the opposition party made clear at the same time that it might instead endorse another candidate challenging President Serzh Sarkisian. But they gave no names.
The announcement followed a conference held by Dashnaktsutyun behind the closed doors on Tuesday.
“Why did we decide not to participate? The first reason is the nature of elections which has unfortunately taken hold in Armenia and -- like many other areas of our life such as the economy and political relations -- is shadowy,” Aghvan Vartanian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, told a news conference.
“Namely, elections in Armenia are shadowy,” he said. “People go to the polls but the decision [on an election outcome] was made long ago through other means and levers. We have not managed to create joint mechanisms for changing that nature.”
Vartanian also attributed the move to Dashnaktsutyun’s failure to form a “united opposition front” against President Sarkisian. “Taking part in predetermined elections would mean becoming part of a written scenario,” he added. “As we have said, Dashnaktsutyun never plays in others’ games or is guided by others’ scenarios. We are an independent political force.”
Dashnaktsutyun challenged Sarkisian with its own candidate, Vahan Hovannisian, in the last presidential election held in February 2008. Official results of the disputed ballot gave Hovannisian 6.2 percent of the vote. Dashnaktsutyun alleged serious electoral fraud at the time before joining Sarkisian’s new governing coalition and essentially supporting a post-election government crackdown on an opposition movement led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.
Dashnaktsutyun left the coalition in April 2009 in protest against Sarkisian’s policy of rapprochement with Turkey. It took part in the May 2012 parliamentary elections and got over 5 percent of the vote, just enough to remain represented in the National Assembly.
Last month Dashnaktsutyun representatives held a series of talks with Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK), the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and other major political groups on a 7-point political program put forward by their party. It envisaged, among other things, Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic. Dashnaktsutyun failed to drum up broad-based support for its pre-election platform.
Both Ter-Petrosian and BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian have decided not to run in the presidential election slated for February 18. Tsarukian announced his unexpected decision just days after his December 8 confidential meeting with Sarkisian. Dashnaktsutyun leaders also met with the president on December 8.