By Irina Hovannisian
Former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian said on Wednesday that his Orinats Yerkir party, one of the largest in Armenia, will not form an alliance with other opposition groups to contest the May 12 parliamentary elections.
Baghdasarian said the decision to take part in the vote single-handedly was made at a meeting of the party’s governing board the previous night.
“In artificial alliances, jealousy is stronger than love,” he explained. “We think that it’s better to have healthy cooperation on concrete issues and principles than to consolidate parties with different ideologies and programs.”
Orinats Yerkir, which claims to have more than 90,000 members, has been courted by other major opposition parties ever since it was forced out of President Robert Kocharian’s governing coalition in May last year. Baghdasarian has reportedly discussed with some of them the possibility of setting up a pro-Western electoral alliance.
The ambitious ex-speaker said he is open to other forms of close cooperation with “healthy opposition forces.” He said that includes jointly countering attempts to falsify election results, which are anticipated by many other opposition figures. Baghdasarian was less pessimistic on that score, saying that the Armenian opposition is able to prevent vote rigging.
Like the other opposition Artarutyun alliance and the National Unity Party (AMK), Orinats Yerkir controls one of the nine seats in the Central Election Commission and its territorial divisions. The party is expected to be a major contender in the upcoming elections thanks to its leader’s populist appeal.
Asked whether he is ready to again team up with parties loyal to Kocharian after the vote, Baghdasarian told reporters, “Naturally, we will primarily cooperate with opposition forces. We want the opposition to have a majority [in parliament.] To that end, we will cooperate with all opposition parties.”