By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia’s leading political parties continued on Wednesday intensive discussions on the possibility of forming alliances for next May’s parliamentary elections.
With only four days remaining before the legal deadline for the nomination of candidates, none of them has decided yet how it will contest the polls.
President Robert Kocharian, who has held consultations on the issue in recent days, said the three main groups supporting him -- the Republican Party (HHK), the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Orinats Yerkir -- are unlikely to form an electoral bloc. “I don’t think that there will be a certain [pro-presidential] alliance because there already exist established parties with their own history and support base,” he told reporters.
Kocharian indicated that his top loyalists are discussing other ways of cooperating in the unfolding parliamentary race.
On the opposition front, all eyes are on the People’s Party (HZhK) of defeated presidential candidate Stepan Demirchian. The HZhK board was meeting late Wednesday to decide whether or not to join forces with more than a dozen other opposition groups that rallied around Demirchian’s presidential bid.
Most of those opposition parties support the idea of forming a united front against the pro-Kocharian camp. “If there are no serious differences among the parties, we will act in a single bloc,” Albert Bazeyan, chairman of the Hanrapetutyun party, told RFE/RL.
The parties and blocs will primarily compete for 75 out of the 131 parliament seats that will be contested under the system of proportional representation. The remaining 56 seats will be distributed in single-mandate constituencies across Armenia. Many of them are currently held by wealthy government-controlled individuals who are not affiliated with any political organization but support Kocharian.
Kocharian pledged Wednesday to “do everything” to ensure that the legislative elections are more democratic than last week’s presidential vote. Bazeyan, however, dismissed his assurances, saying that the May polls will not be free and fair without a major “change of the political situation” in the country.