A senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has confirmed ongoing talks with other opposition and non-government parties around the possibility of forming a coalition after the May municipal elections to try to take power in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.
In the past several weeks Dashnaktsutuyn, as well as the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), Heritage and the Armenian National Congress (HAK) were in discussions in an effort to agree on a joint list of candidates to contest the May 5 ballot. All of them said they were keen about stopping the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) from retaining power in the city that accounts for nearly a third of Armenia’s population and holds almost half of the nation’s economic strength. The talks in question, however, produced no immediate result.
ARF Executive Council of Armenia representative Armen Rustamian, who heads the Dashnak list of candidates in the polls, unveiled some details of the discussions as he talked to an RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) correspondent on Wednesday.
“We gathered in our office for several rounds of talks together with Heritage and BHK representatives. Unfortunately, ambitions again prevailed, with each one insisting on heading the list,” said Rustamian. “We kept our ambitions to a minimum to make this alliance happen. We made it clear that we would not object to others taking the top spot if they could agree on the matter amongst themselves. We said we were ready to make every effort to achieve victory, but, unfortunately, that didn’t work out in the end.”
Rustamian said that if talks with Heritage and the BHK had been a success, they would also have embarked on similar discussions with the HAK.
“But while we have failed to form a pre-election bloc, we will try to form a post-election alliance,” emphasized the Dashnak representative.
Other opposition groups, including the HAK, the BHK and the newly formed ‘Barev, Yerevan’ (Hello, Yerevan) bloc of parties dominated by Raffi Hovannisian’s Heritage, have also pronounced in favor of the idea of cooperation in Yerevan’s new municipal assembly to try to stop the HHK from having its member elected as new mayor.
The party or bloc that gains more than half of the votes of Yerevan residents in the ballot will be allowed to have its top candidate installed as new mayor automatically. If there is no outright winner, the factions to be formed in the 65-member body will take a secret ballot to decide the new city governor.
The HHK has been dismissive of the assumptions that any opposition party or bloc could win the election outright. The party led by President Serzh Sarkisian also doubts that any opposition consolidation after the elections could threaten the majority that it is confident of winning in the polls.
Speaking to media last week Sarkisian voiced confidence that the HHK list topped by incumbent mayor Taron Markarian will win by a landslide and remain in power in the city for another four-year period.