The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) criticized its political opponents on Wednesday for viewing the upcoming municipal elections in Yerevan as an opportunity to weaken its grip on power in the country.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the HHK’s chief spokesman and election campaign manager, said the May 5 polls are a merely local contest that should not be politicized by the opposition.
“You may be a very good foreign minister, politician or orator but still lack professionalism in this area,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We will be electing administrators for the community of Yerevan, people that are not supposed to address things like political doctrines, foreign policy strategies, economic policy or pension rises. That is the prerogative of the government and the National Assembly.”
Armenia’s three main opposition forces say that stripping the HHK of its majority in the municipal council that chooses Yerevan’s mayors would be a huge step towards eventually unseating President Serzh Sarkisian. The opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) has likewise described the May 5 elections as a chance to end the ruling party’s “political monopoly.”
Sharmazanov insisted that none of them stands a chance of defeating the HHK. They are only vying for second place in the mayoral race, he said. “The fact is that some political forces are keen to demonstrate to both the authorities and the society that they, rather than [opposition leader] Raffi Hovannisian, are the number two [election contender,]” added the deputy speaker of Armenia’s parliament.
Hovannisian, who leads the Zharangutyun party, was Sarkisian’s main opposition challenger in the recent presidential election effectively boycotted by the BHK, the Armenian National Congress and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.