Businessman Gagik Tsarukian indicated on Monday that his alliance, the runner-up in Armenia’s recent parliamentary elections, will remain in opposition to the government.
According to the official results of the April 2 elections, the Tsarukian Bloc won 27.3 percent of the vote and 31 seats in Armenia’s new 105-member parliament. President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) will control 58 parliament seats.
Tsarukian essentially ruled out the possibility of a coalition agreement with the HHK. “You can now see that we are in opposition … If we are not in a coalition, then we are automatically in opposition,” he told reporters.
The HHK has also given no indications that it will offer Tsarukian ministerial portfolios. It has said only that it wants to extend its power-sharing agreement with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).
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.
The tycoon announced his return to the political arena in January, fueling media speculation that his comeback is the result of a secret deal with Sarkisian aimed at diverting votes from genuine opposition groups. BHK representatives denied that.
Unlike other opposition forces, Tsarukian and his associates have not accused the HHK of buying votes and resorting to other serious irregularities to win the parliamentary elections.
Just days before the April 2 vote, Tsarukian declared that he is headed to victory. He declined on clarity on Monday whether he is satisfied with his bloc’s performance. “I love my people, I’m happy with those who voted [for the Tsarukian Bloc] and those who didn’t,” he said.
Tsarukian, who is a member of the outgoing National Assembly, also would not say whether he will take up his seat in the new Armenian parliament. The tycoon has rarely been seen in the parliament for the last five years, skipping more sessions than any other lawmaker.