The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) downplayed on Tuesday Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s remark that his decision to join the HHK could hurt his approval ratings.
The party spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, insisted that Karapetian did not mean that the HHK is discredited in the eyes of many Armenians when he spoke to journalists late on Monday.
“He spoke about popularity,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Being in government is not popular.”
“Governments are not popular in any country these days,” he said. “Why? Because being in power requires a lot of responsibility. Opposition deputies are in a more beneficial position than us in terms of engaging in populism, making nice statements.”
Sharmazanov at the same time stressed that all Republicans must be proud of being affiliated with the party headed by President Serzh Sarkisian. “For me, it’s an honor,” he said. “As regards others, time will tell.”
“But I think that every member of the Republican Party must be conscious of the fact that for all its shortcomings the HHK has been, is and, I hope, will remain the pillar of our independent statehood,” added the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament.
The Armenian opposition will brush aside that claim. Opposition leaders have long claimed that the HHK’s grip on power is based on vote rigging, government corruption and abuse of power.
Karapetian as well as several newly appointed members of his cabinet joined the HHK ahead of a party convention held on November 26. The premier argued that he needs strong political support for pushing through his ambitious reform agenda.
In other comments made recently, Karapetian stressed the need for a “change” within the HHK.
Responding to that remark, Sharmazanov said that the ruling party embarked on reforms even before Karapetian was appointed as prime minister in September. “Those reforms did not begin with the formation of the new government,” he said. “They began with the enactment of constitutional reforms [in December 2015.]”