The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) released on Sunday the list of its parliamentary election candidates which is topped by President Serzh Sarkisian and comprises senior party figures, government officials and even former opposition politicians.
HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov called the list “more than competitive,” underlining the party’s plans to win the May 6 elections by a landslide and retain its control of the Armenian parliament.
Hovik Abrahamian, the former parliament speaker managing the HHK’s election campaign, is second on the slate, followed by Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian, Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian and the current speaker, Samvel Nikoyan. Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobian, Yerevan’s controversial former Mayor Gagik Beglarian and two HHK deputy chairmen, Galust Sahakian and Razmik Zohrabian.
Also standing a good chance of entering the National Assembly are General Manvel Grigorian, the chairman of the Yerkrapah Union of war veterans, pop singer Shushan Petrosian and Artashes Geghamian, a former opposition leader who has harshly criticized Serzh Sarkisian in the past.
More than a dozen government ministers and provincial governors are further down the pecking order. Surik Khachatrian, the controversial governor of the southeastern Syunik province, is among them.
The fact that Abrahamian emerged as the HHK’s second most important candidate is particularly noteworthy. Sharmazanov dismissed suggestions that this is a sign that the ex-speaker might replace Tigran Sarkisian as prime minister after the elections.
“As of now we have not promised any posts to anyone,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “No such issue has been discussed. Hovik Abrahamian is second because he is our campaign manager and Tigran Sarkisian is third because he is an active member of our Executive Body.”