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Armenian Coalition Parties Mull Election Alliance


Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian (C), Orinats Yerkir Party leader Artur Baghdasarian (R) and Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian sign a new coalition agreement, 17Feb2011.

Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian (C), Orinats Yerkir Party leader Artur Baghdasarian (R) and Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian sign a new coalition agreement, 17Feb2011.

The three political parties making up Armenia’s governing coalition are considering jointly contesting the next parliamentary elections due in May 2012, one of their leaders confirmed on Tuesday.


Artur Baghdasarian said his Orinats Yerkir (Country of Law) party could form an electoral alliance with President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) and the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).

“The Orinats Yerkir Party could participate in the forthcoming elections with a joint coalition list or on its own,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service in an interview. “That will be decided during political discussions on the basis of each party’s strategy and tactics.”

In Baghdasarian’s words, those discussions have not yet started. But he said a decision on the 2012 polls should be made “in several months’ time.”

In a far-reaching agreement signed on February 17, the leaders of the three governing parties pledged to avoid challenging each other in the legislative polls and to campaign for Sarkisian’s reelection in 2013. Senior HHK and BHK representatives spoke of the possibility of a three-party electoral alliance following the signing of the deal.

The BHK leader, Gagik Tsarukian, was previously reluctant to pledge support for the president’s plans to a win a second term in office. By contrast, Baghdasarian made clear last year that he will not run for president in 2013 and will back Sarkisian instead.

Armenia -- Leader of Orinats Yerkir (Rule of Law) coalition party Artur Baghdasarian gives an interview to RFE/RLs Armenian service, Yerevan, 05Apr2011
The Orinats Yerkir leader, who is also the secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council, was a major opposition candidate in the last presidential election held in February 2008. Unlike the main opposition contender, Levon Ter-Petrosian, he recognized the legitimacy of Sarkisian’s hotly disputed election victory and signed a power-sharing deal with the latter.

Baghdasarian and his party also backed a post-election government crackdown on the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition, which involved the use of lethal force and mass arrests.

Baghdasarian, who is now a hate figure for many Ter-Petrosian supporters, admitted on Tuesday that this stance lost Orinats Yerkir many followers. “We lost a certain part of our electorate three years ago,” he said. “But now, three years on, many values have been rethought.

“There is a big influx of members into the Orinats Yerkir ranks. In 2010 alone, more than 10,000 citizens of Armenia joined our party.”

Baghdasarian insisted that Orinats Yerkir would do well in the next elections even without teaming up with its coalition partners. “Orinats Yerkir today has sufficient political weight and it has repeatedly proved in national elections that it is capable of making a strong showing and having a major presence in the future National Assembly,” he said.

Baghdasarian also said he is “unaware” of any contacts between the government and Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) and declined to comment on the HAK’s renewed campaign of antigovernment demonstrations in Yerevan. He said only that he is “against the practice of talking with ultimatums, whether it’s the authorities or the opposition.”
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