Current domestic challenges to President Serzh Sarkisian’s rule result from a political marriage of convenience between some oligarchs and politicians bent on “revanchism,” the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) claimed on Wednesday.
HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov also laughed off opposition allegations that Sarkisian is keen to turn Armenia into a parliamentary republic in order to be able to stay in power after completing his second and final presidential term in 2018.
“If there is any reason for concern, it’s a merger of revanchism and oligarchy,” he said, commenting on those allegations. “If constitutional reforms make my country more democratic, deepens pluralism, and strengthen the separation of powers, then what is the problem?”
Although Sharmazanov refused to name anyone, he clearly alluded to growing cooperation between the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a member of the ruling coalition until 2012, and the Armenian National Congress (HAK) of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. The BHK is led by Gagik Tsarukian, one of Armenia’s richest men close to another ex-president, Robert Kocharian. The latter has been increasingly criticizing the current government’s policies. Some observers believe that Kocharian is plotting a political comeback.
The BHK, the HAK and another major opposition party, Zharangutyun, are highly critical of Sarkisian’s plans to enact sweeping constitutional changes that would curtail presidential powers. They say that the real aim of the planned reform is a “reproduction” of the ruling regime.
Sharmazanov dismissed the opposition arguments, saying that Sarkisian could theoretically stay in power as prime minister or in another capacity even without amending the constitution. “Whether it’s a presidential, semi-presidential or parliamentary system, the Republican Party will have a significant role in any elections,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Even under the existing constitution, if the HHK succeeds in [the parliamentary elections of] 2017, it will form the government regardless of who will be president in 2018.”
Sharmazanov also insisted that the president and his political allies are not worried about a joint anti-government rally which the BHK, the HAK and Zharangutyun plan to hold on October 10. He said it is unlikely to be followed by the kind of unrest that would threaten Sarkisian’s hold on power.