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Businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s alliance, the runner-up in Armenia’s parliamentary elections, shed no light on its next political moves in its first reaction to the official vote results on Monday.

It also refrained from evaluating the Armenian authorities’ handling of the ballot strongly criticized by other, more hardline opposition groups.

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), the Tsarukian Bloc came in a distant second, getting 27.3 percent of the vote which should translate into 30 seats in Armenia’s new 101-member parliament. President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) is projected to control 55 seats.

Tsarukian declared just days before the vote that his bloc is headed to victory.

“We have received a vote of confidence from more than 400,000 of our compatriots,” the bloc said in a written statement. “Rest assured that we highly appreciate every vote for us which obliges us to do everything within our power to move forward and develop the country.”

“We are very conscious of the seriousness of challenges facing our country and will do everything to address them,” it added.

The statement did not clarify whether the bloc will formally remain in opposition to Armenia’s government or seek a coalition agreement with the HHK.

Armenia - Businessman Gagik Tsarukian holds an election campaign rally in Aparan, 13Mar2017.
Armenia - Businessman Gagik Tsarukian holds an election campaign rally in Aparan, 13Mar2017.

Some Tsarukian aides ruled out the possibility of a power-sharing deal with the HHK during the election campaign. The tycoon himself was more ambiguous on that score, saying that he is ready to team up with political forces that will embrace his campaign platform.

Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the dominant force in the bloc, was part of Sarkisian’s government from 2008-2012. It withdrew from the ruling coalition amid mounting tensions with the president that culminated in a bitter confrontation two years ago. Tsarukian was forced to retire from politics at that time.

Tsarukian announced his return to the political arena in January, fueling media speculation that his comeback is the result of a secret deal with Sarkisian. BHK representatives denied that.

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