President Serzh Sarkisian and his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) plan to form a “broad-based” coalition government after parliamentary elections expected in April, according to a senior HHK representative.
Sarkisian promised a “government of national accord” on Monday as he commented on the end of a two-week standoff between security forces and opposition gunmen that seized a police station in a July 17 attack hailed by thousands of demonstrators in Yerevan. “I can say for certain that in a matter of months we will have such a government,” he said without elaborating.
Hermine Naghdalian, a senior HHK member and deputy parliament speaker, clarified late on Thursday that the ruling party plans to cut power-sharing deals with other political groups after the 2017 elections.
“We and the president of the republic think that as a result of the elections we will have such a government based on a broad-based accord,” Naghdalian said after a meeting of the HHK’s governing body chaired by Sarkisian.
The HHK already reached a fresh power-sharing agreement with one major party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), in February, giving it three ministerial posts.
Naghdalian refused to say whether it is now negotiating with other parties as well. “I’m not prepared to tell you what negotiations may take place at the moment or later on,” she said.
The elections will take place one year before Sarkisian serves out his final presidential term and Armenia completes its transition to the parliamentary system of government. Sarkisian has not yet clarified whether he will retire from active politics or seek to become prime minister in 2018.
Sarkisian formed a coalition government with Dashnaktsutyun as well as the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Orinats Yerkir parties when he took over as president in April 2008. All of those parties pulled out of the coalition by 2014 for different reasons.
The BHK chairwoman, Naira Zohrabian, declined to say on Friday whether her party is prepared to enter into another coalition with the presidential party. She said only that the Sarkisian administration should now stop “imitating reforms” and genuinely address public discontent with the state of affairs in the country.
For his part, Mher Shahgeldian, a leader of Orinats Yerkir recently renamed the National Reniassance Party, said: “The idea is acceptable to us but right now such an issue is not on our political agenda.”
“We need to create first a proper atmosphere for such an accord,” Shahgeldian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The Armenian National Congress (HAK), an opposition party led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, appears to be another potential coalition partner.
Ter-Petrosian was for years a bitter critic of Sarkisian. But shortly after a sharp escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in April, Ter-Petrosian said opposition forces should put aside their differences with the government in the face of a military threat from Azerbaijan. The ex-president reaffirmed his stance during the authorities’ standoff with the gunmen.
The HAK on Friday refused to comment on the possibility of a coalition deal with Sarkisian.