Opposition parties should cut a power-sharing deal in Yerevan if they succeed in stripping the ruling Republican Party (HHK) of its majority in the municipal council, a deputy chairman of Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) said on Thursday.
“If we manage to ensure that the HHK does not collect, even through large-scale fraud, 40 percent of the vote, we can form a coalition and jointly take the municipality away from them,” Levon Zurabian told journalists.
Under Armenian law, the top candidate of a party winning more than 40 percent of the vote in the May 5 elections of Yerevan’s Council of Europe will automatically become Yerevan’s new mayor. The HHK holds 35 of the 65 seats in the outgoing council.
The HAK, which has recently transformed itself into a political party, won 13 council seats in the last municipal elections held in 2009. But it refused to take up them in protest against what it called vote rigging.
Zurabian made clear that Ter-Petrosian’s party will not spurn municipal mandates if it wins them this time around, even though it believes that the Armenian authorities are seeking to ensure the HHK’s victory by fraudulent means.
Like other opposition leaders, Zurabian stressed the importance of joint opposition efforts to prevent possible fraud. He said the HAK as well as two other major opposition parties and the opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) are continuing to negotiate over ways of ensuring such oversight despite uneasy relations among them.
“One thing seems acceptable to everyone. In polling stations we must jointly preserve the people’s votes. Everyone is interested in that,” added the Ter-Petrosian associate.
The forces challenging President Serzh Sarkisian’s HHK last month failed to reach agreement on the idea of forming a broad-based electoral alliance.
“I think that a post-election alliance would be much more efficient,” Naira Zohrabian, a senior BHK official, said on Wednesday evening, echoing the idea advanced by Zurabian.
Zohrabian spoke during campaign meetings which she and another senior BHK figure, Vartan Oskanian, held with residents of Yerevan’s western Ajapnyak district.
Oskanian emphasized the political significance of defeating the ruling party in the upcoming polls. “Consider this a political election with social and municipal consequences,” he told local voters.
The HAK’s Zurabian similarly said that an opposition victory in Yerevan would “weaken the ruling regime” and facilitate its eventual downfall.
HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov criticized such statements on Wednesday. He said the May 5 vote is a merely local contest that should not be “politicized” by the opposition.