Nikol Pashinian, one of the leaders of the opposition Yelk alliance, insisted on Thursday that it will make a strong showing in Sunday’s Armenian parliamentary elections.
“According to our analysis and forecasts, three forces will get into the [new] parliament: the Republican Party (HHK), Gagik Tsarukian’s bloc, and the Yelk bloc,” he told a news conference.
Pashinian claimed that Yelk could even win the elections. “If those citizens, who have assured us in our meetings that they will vote for us, really go to the polls and vote for us, we will win the elections,” he said after weeks of energetic campaigning across Armenia.
Yelk was set up by three opposition parties last December. Opinion polls commissioned by government-linked organizations have suggested that it will finish a distant third in the April 2 vote.
The polls, dismissed as not credible by opposition groups, also show that the ruling HHK and Tsarukian’s alliance are the clear frontrunners in the Armenian parliamentary race.
Like other Yelk leaders, Pashinian disputed Tsarukian’s opposition credentials, saying that the tycoon is ready to cut new power-sharing deals with President Serzh Sarkisian’s party. “They may not call it a coalition, they may call it a national unity government or they may not name [their post-election cooperation] at all,” he said.
Some Tsarukian aides have ruled out the possibility of entering into a coalition with the HHK. The tycoon himself has been more ambiguous on the issue, saying that he is ready to team up with any force that would back his election manifesto.
Yelk comprises Pashinian’s Civil Contract party, Edmon Marukian’s Bright Armenia party and the Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party of Aram Sarkisian, a veteran politician who had served as prime minister in 1999-2000. In a joint declaration adopted in December, they said they will strive for a “European model of democratic, rule-of-law and social state” in Armenia.
Pashinian and Sarkisian played major roles in former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s 2007-2008 opposition movement. They both fell out with Ter-Petrosian in 2012.
Ter-Petrosian’s Congress-HZhK alliance is another major opposition election contender. The central theme of its election campaign is a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh proposed by the United States, Russia and France.
Pashinian, 41, criticized Ter-Petrosian’s conciliatory rhetoric on Karabakh, saying that the ex-president is advocating disproportionate and unilateral Armenian concessions to Azerbaijan. He also took a dim view of Ter-Petrosian’s broader political activities.
“In my view, Levon Ter-Petrosian’s statements have nothing to do with ongoing political processes,” said the outspoken former journalist. “I already said years ago … that Levon Ter-Petrosian builds his political activities from the standpoint of a historian who wonders what will be written about the modern times a hundred years later.”