President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) remains confident of staying in power as a result of Armenia’s next national elections due in 2017 and 2018, one of its deputy chairmen said on Monday.
Galust Sahakian, who is also the speaker of the Armenian parliament, was asked by journalists to clarify whether he thinks the HHK will hold on to power after those elections. “Of course,” he said. “Do you think that the Republican Party will leave the political arena?”
Eduard Sharmazanov, Sahakian’s deputy and the chief HHK spokesman, similarly stated in April that the party will remain “the leader of Armenia’s political system and scene over the next decade.” “If anybody wants to become president or prime minister of Armenia, they will have to go through [the HHK headquarters located on Yerevan’s] Melik-Adamian Street,” Sharmazanov said in remarks condemned by the opposition.
Armenia’s current constitution bars President Sarkisian from seeking a third five-year term after completing his tenure in 2018. An ad hoc presidential commission currently working on a constitutional reform planned by Sarkisian has not called for abolishing this restriction. Instead, it is expected to recommend Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic. Opposition leaders say that this is aimed at enabling Sarkisian to maintain the reins of power in another capacity.
Like other HHK leaders, Sahakian dismissed this speculation. “Under any political system, the Republican Party has sufficient political capital to always be the main player,” he said.
Sarkisian said in April that he will “not aspire” to the post of prime minister if Armenia becomes a parliamentary republic. Some opposition leaders have speculated that he plans to continue pulling the strings as speaker of the next parliament to be elected in 2017.