Businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s alliance and several other political groups have decided not to run in next month’s mayoral election in Yerevan, making it a largely two-horse race between the ruling Republican Party (HHK) and the opposition Yelk alliance.
Voters in the Armenian capital will elect, on a party-list basis, on May 14 a new municipal council that will in turn choose the city mayor. The HHK leadership has nominated Yerevan’s incumbent Mayor Taron Markarian for reelection.
Markarian, in office since 2011, will be challenged by Nikol Pashinian, one of the leaders of Yelk who tops the list of the bloc’s candidates for the city council.
Yelk came in third in the April 2 parliamentary elections, winning 9 of the 105 seats in Armenia’s National Assembly. It got most of its votes in Yerevan.
Also entering the fray was the newly established Yerkir Tsirani party of Zaruhi Postanjian, a radical opposition politician. No other party or bloc applied to the Central Election Commission for registration by Sunday’s deadline.
Tsarukian announced on Saturday that his bloc, which finished second in the parliamentary elections, will not participate in the municipal polls. In a written statement, he said the bloc was busy with the April 2 vote and did not have enough time to draw up a “serious, substantiated and appropriate program” for the mayoral race.
“My decision could open up competitive opportunities for other forces, new teams and new individuals to present and implement their programs,” added the tycoon.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the fourth group that will be represented in the new parliament, attributed its decision not to run for the city council to its “unexpectedly poor results” achieved in Yerevan during the parliamentary elections. Dashnaktsutyun garnered 6.6 percent of the national vote. Most of its votes came from areas outside the capital.
Opposition groups that failed to win any parliament seats also chose to steer clear of the Yerevan race. They include Artur Baghdasarian’s Armenian Revival party, Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Congress-HZhK alliance and another bloc led by former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian.
Commenting on his party’s decision, an Armenian Revival spokesman said the ruling HHK bought votes and used its government resources to win the April 2 ballot and will do the same on May 14.