By Armen Dulian
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) believes it can double the presently modest number of its seats in parliament, a top leader of the governing party said over the weekend.
Deputy parliament speaker Vahan Hovannisian said that is essential for having an “important influence on key government decisions,” something which Dashnaktsutyun has described as a necessary condition for its continued presence in President Robert Kocharian’s cabinet.
“Today we have the potential to double the number [of Dashnaktsutyun parliamentarians,]” Hovannisian told RFE/RL in an interview.
Dashnaktsutyun has only 11 members in the outgoing 131-member National Assembly and four government ministers, making its presence in the executive much weightier in proportional terms.
“Today there is an imbalance as we control 20 percent of the government and less than 10 percent of the National Assembly. This has to be corrected,” said Hovannisian. He complained that the nationalist party bears full responsibility for government policies without playing a commensurate role in their formulation.
Other Dashnaktsutyun leaders warned last year they will move into opposition to the Kocharian administration if the May 12 parliamentary elections fall short of democratic standards or if their party fares poorly in them. A newspaper report last week alleged that Kocharian told Hovannisian that he will guarantee Dashnaktsutyun up to 10 percent of parliament seats if it turns a blind eye to electoral fraud benefiting two other, bigger establishment parties. The party’s leadership rejected the alleged offer, according to the report.
Hovannisian rejected the claims as an “idiocy.” “First of all, nobody has offered us 10 percent,” he said. “It is the people who are in a position to make such offers. Nobody has the right to make us such offers in place of the people.”
Hovannisian also reiterated that Dashnaktsutyun will participate in next year’s presidential election with its own candidate, meaning that it will not endorse Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s anticipated presidential bid. “Our candidate will not be a member of another party,” he said.
(Photolur photo: Vahan Hovannisian.)