The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Friday formally endorsed President Serzh Sarkisian’s pick for the next head of state who will be chosen by the parliament and have largely ceremonial powers.
Dashnaktsutyun and its senior coalition partner, the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), jointly nominated Armen Sarkissian for the post of president. A relevant motion was signed by around 60 parliamentarians representing the two parties.
Sarkissian met and addressed them earlier in the day. Aghvan Vartanian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, said he was impressed with the presidential candidate’s speech. Vartanian said Sarkissian’s vision for Armenia’s future is “fully congruent” with his and his party’s views.
Speaking to reporters, Vartanian dismissed suggestions that Dashnaktsutyun would have backed any other candidate handpicked by the outgoing president.
Dashnaktsutyun is represented in the Armenian government by three ministers. It won 7 seats in the country’s 105-member parliament elected in April 2017.
Meanwhile, the ruling HHK’s parliamentary leader, Vahram Baghdasarian announced that the National Assembly will start a plenary debate on the next president on March 1. “In all likelihood, the vote will take place on March 2,” he said.
Armen Sarkissian, who briefly served as Armenia’s prime minister in the 1990s, will have to be backed by a three-fourths and two-thirds majority of lawmakers in order to win in the first and second rounds of voting respectively. A simple majority of votes is enough to win the presidency in the third round. The HHK has such a majority.
Nevertheless, Serzh Sarkisian expressed hope last month that the former premier will win outright in the first round. In that case, he would need the backing of at least 79 members of the National Assembly.
The HHK and Dashnaktsutyun control 65 seats between them. They will therefore need the votes of businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s alliance which holds 31 seats.
The Tsarukian Bloc, which is officially in opposition to the government, will not field its own presidential candidate. It has not yet clarified whether its lawmakers will vote for Sarkissian.