Armenia’s main political parties, increasingly divided along the opposition-government lines, have begun preparations for what they think will be a “fierce political autumn,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” The governing Republican Party (HHK) is emerging as the backbone of the pro-government camp, attracting into its orbit the National Democratic Union (AZhM), Orinats Yerkir and other sympathetic parties. The opposition camp will include the People’s Party (HZhK), the Hanrapetutyun party, the Right and Accord bloc and the National Accord Front. Whereas the pro-government forces are making preparations for the 2003 elections, the emerging opposition alliance is putting the emphasis on a pre-term presidential election. But this, according to the paper, is not a realistic goal because most ordinary people are sick and tired of “political upheavals.”
“Zhamanak” says the parties beset by internal wrangling must seriously analyze causes of their troubles. It says the rift in the HZhK was inevitable because Stepan Demirchian and his lieutenants have failed to formulate a clear-cut party line.
“Aravot” notes that so much has been said about the imminent collapse of Miasnutyun that few now pay attention to the bloc’s “de-facto non-existence.” The paper carries a statement by the HZhK which seems to stick another nail in the bloc’s coffin. The statement, provoked by Thursday’s ouster of HZhK deputy Vartan Mkrtchian as Miasnutyun faction whip, accuses the Republicans of making a deal with the nine HZhK defectors. The HHK has thereby turned the parliament into an “illegitimate, anti-popular body.” The HZhK urges forces concerned about the future of the country to “think seriously about the need for the National Assembly’s further activities.”
The effective call for the parliament’s dissolution is backed by a prominent Armenian political analyst, Suren Zolian, who tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the deputies should now pass a new electoral code and then disband themselves. Zolian says the parties in the current parliament are primarily concerned with securing ministerial portfolios and do not care much about legislative work. He says those of them that have been hit by splits should not blame the authorities for their own weakness.
Parliament deputy Arshak Sadoyan, who quit the AZhM in protest against its pro-government tilt last March, comments in a “Haykakan Zhamanak” interview on the latest challenge against the party’s chairman, Vazgen Manukian. He says the revolt is led by those AZhM deputies who were heavily defeated in single-mandate constituencies in the 1999 elections but were elected to the parliament on the party list basis. They capitalized on the popularity of Manukian and other leaders only to “betray the AZhM principles,” Sadoyan says. “They went to help themselves from the authorities’ table and now that Vazgen Manukian stands in their way decide to sack him as faction leader. It’s that simple.”