By Karine KalantarianOpposition leader Raffi Hovannisian claimed on Tuesday that his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party is popular enough to win a majority of seats in Armenia’s next parliament.
Some local commentators question the relatively young party’s ability to win at least 5 percent of the vote needed for winning parliament seats under the system of proportional representation.
Hovannisian insisted, however, that Zharangutyun will fare much better in the elections slated for May 12 as he presented its campaign manifesto to some 300 party activists and supporters who gathered in a conference hall in Yerevan. “I believe that our party will win an absolute majority in case of a level playing field and a relative majority in the existing unequal conditions,” he told reporters.
The presentation began with the rendition of Armenia’s national anthem and ended with a concert by a popular folk jazz band. The unveiled party platform stresses the importance of establishing the rule of law, fighting against government corruption and reducing poverty in Armenia. The party also promises to create as many as 150,000 new jobs if it comes to power.
“We set out to become the masters of our Fatherland and our rights, our heritage and our liberty,” Hovannisian told the audience. “We are on our way to victory.”
Zharangutyun was among several pro-Western opposition parties that tried unsuccessfully to form an electoral bloc earlier this year. Their failure to join forces was widely construed as a serious blow to opposition hopes of defeating President Robert Kocharian and his political allies.