The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has called into question the opposition credentials of businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s alliance, one of its main nominal challengers in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
“I don’t think that there are radical oppositionists in the Tsarukian Bloc,” the HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, told reporters late on Thursday.
“Many of our fellow citizens -- perhaps including some figures involved in the Tsarukian Bloc, and there are quite a few of them -- do not consider the Tsarukian Bloc to be in opposition,” he said.
Sharmazanov was also coy about the possibility of the HHK and Tsarukian forming a coalition government as a result of the April 2 elections. “Everything depends on the election results,” he said, adding that potential coalition partners need to share a “common program-based vision” for the country’s future.
Tsarukian said earlier this week that his bloc is open to a power-sharing deal with any other political force that would embrace its 15-point manifesto calling for sweeping tax exemptions, wage and pension increases and cuts in utility prices.
Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the second largest force in the outgoing parliament, was already part of President Serzh Sarkisian’s coalition government from 2008-2012. It withdrew from the government amid rising tensions between the tycoon and Sarkisian. 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 aimed at diverting votes from genuine opposition parties. BHK representatives denied that.
Tsarukian has criticized the socioeconomic situation in the country on the campaign trail but avoided explicitly blaming Sarkisian or the government for it.