The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the second largest in parliament, said on Wednesday that President Serzh Sarkisian has not yet offered it to join a new coalition government that could be formed by him.
It emerged on Tuesday that Sarkisian discussed over the weekend a potential power-sharing deal with a leader of another party previously represented in his cabinet, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). Dashnaktsutyun pulled out of the government in 2009 in protest against his policy of rapprochement with Turkey.
The bigger and more influential BHK followed suit in 2012 amid growing tensions between its founding leader Gagik Tsarukian and the president. Those tensions escalated into a bitter standoff a year ago, with Tsarukian eventually resigning as BHK leader and quitting politics altogether under strong government pressure.
The party has been largely loyal to Sarkisian since then. Like Dashnaktsutyun, it endorsed his controversial constitutional amendments that were put on a referendum last month.
The spokesman for the BHK, Vahan Babayan, said that it has held no negotiations with Sarkisian on the possibility of rejoining the government. “It’s up to the president of the republic to decide with whom to negotiate,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Babayan said he personally supports the BHK’s return to the government even before the next parliamentary elections due in 2017. “If would be right if the forces that supported the new constitution moved forward in a consolidated manner,” he said.
“I think that our views and activities on these issues will be clearer in the coming days,” added Babayan.
Vahram Baghdasarian, the parliamentary leader of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), declined to clarify on Wednesday whether the president will offer government posts to the BHK as well. “The [cooperation] offer has been made to everyone but only Dashnaktsutyun has responded to so far,” he claimed.
Baghdasarian also revealed that Sarkisian has not yet discussed with the HHK leadership his desire to reach a new coalition agreement with Dashnaktsutyun. He went on to insist that the president and Dashnaktsutyun leader Hrant Markarian did not talk about concrete government posts at their weekend meeting.
The Armenian opposition, meanwhile, scoffed at Sarkisian’s apparent readiness to form a coalition government even before the 2017 elections. Levon Zurabian, a leader of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), said Sarkisian is thereby trying to address his “lack of legitimacy.”
Zurabian also claimed the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun are conscious of their low approval ratings and want to ensure their presence in Armenia’s next parliament through vote rigging, rather than popular support.