The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) dismissed on Friday claims that it encouraged allies of Gagik Tsarukian to defy his orders to cede their parliament seats to other candidates of his electoral alliance.
“The Republican Party has never stirred up trouble within other parties,” Armen Ashotian, an HHK deputy chairman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The Tsarukian Bloc won 31 of the 105 seats in the new National Assembly elected on April 2. Earlier this week, it submitted to the Central Election Commission (CEC) letters of resignation supposedly signed by 23 of its election candidates.
Twelve of those candidates told the CEC afterwards that they did not sign the letters. The commission handed parliamentary mandates to eight of them.
A spokeswoman for Tsarukian insisted on Thursday that the defiant candidates promised ahead of the elections that they will not take up parliament seats unless they earn the bloc a particular number of votes in concrete constituencies in and outside Yerevan. They failed to meet those vote targets, she said.
Some opposition politicians and media commentators have suggested that they would not have revolted against Tsarukian without President Serzh Sarkisian’s blessing or encouragement. Sarkisian’s HHK won 58 parliament seats in the recent elections.
“Serzh Sarkisian is not satisfied with the [scale of the] majority which he now has in the parliament because it’s a slightly shaky majority,” Levon Zurabian of the opposition Armenian National Congress claimed on Friday. “One year later, some factions could defect and government infighting could intensify.”
“That is why they need a more reliable majority and the so-called revolt in the Tsarukian Bloc was aimed at achieving just that,” said Zurabian.
Like Ashotian, Vahram Baghdasarian, another senior HHK figure, brushed aside such speculation. “We don’t meddle in the internal affairs of other parties or political forces,” he told reporters. “Just wait for a few more days and they will sort out their issues.”
Tsarukian made clear following the April 2 vote that his bloc will not into a coalition agreement with the HHK. His 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 Tsarukian’s 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 about a secret deal with Sarkisian. BHK representatives denied that.