Businessman Gagik Tsarukian indicated on Wednesday that he is ready to cut a power-sharing deal with any political group that would embrace his bloc's manifesto after next month's parliamentary elections.
The Tsarukian Bloc's 15-point campaign platform calls for sweeping tax exemptions, wage and pension increases and cuts in utility prices in the country.
“If my partners, those forming a coalition, agree to implement my 15 points, then I will join it. If not, I won’t form [a coalition] with anyone,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) during a campaign trip to the southeastern Syunik and Vayots Dzor provinces.
Tsarukian, whose bloc is tipped to do well in the April 2 elections, also made clear that he would not necessarily aspire to the post of prime minister in a possible coalition arrangement. “I don’t need a government post,” he said.
Naira Zohrabian, a senior member of the Tsarukian Bloc, has repeatedly stated that the tycoon will not enter into a coalition with President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party. “The Tsarukian Bloc categorically rules out post-election cooperation with one force, the Republican Party, in any format,” Zohrabian insisted on March 17.
Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the dominant force in his bloc, was already part of Sarkisian’s coalition government from 2008-2012. It withdrew from the government amid rising tensions between the tycoon and the president. They culminated in a bitter confrontation in February 2014 which led Tsarukian to resign as BHK leader and retire from politics.
Tsarukian announced his return to the political arena in January this year. The move fueled speculation that his comeback is part of a secret deal with Sarkisian. BHK representatives denied that.
Tsarukian has criticized the socioeconomic situation in the country but avoided explicitly blaming Sarkisian or the government for it on the campaign trail. He declared on Wednesday that ordinary Armenians, not the authorities, are primarily responsible for their hardships.
“The people are to do blame because they don’t vote in elections or read programs presented to them,” he said.