A senior aide to Gagik Tsarukian indicated on Monday that his political alliance will not attempt to scuttle President Serzh Sarkisian’s apparent plans to become prime minister after serving out his second term next week.
Accordingly, Naira Zohrabian made clear that the Tsarukian Bloc will not join another opposition force, Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party, in trying to prevent Sarkisian from extending his rule. She said the Armenian opposition missed its “legitimate chance” to unseat the country’s leadership in parliamentary elections held one year ago.
“Unfortunately, a large part of the public voted, under the influence of one or another factor, for a political force which now has a legitimate right to nominate its prime minister,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). She claimed that the ruling Republican Party (HHK) won the April 2017 vote because of massive vote buying made possible by a popular belief that “things cannot be changed in our country.”
The Armenian parliament is expected to install the next, far more powerful prime minister on April 17, eight days after the end of Sarkisian’s presidency. Under Armenian constitution, the authorities will have to hold fresh elections if the parliament twice fails to choose a premier. Pashinian and his allies claim that large opposition crowds can disrupt such a vote in the National Assembly and thus force snap polls.
Zohrabian dismissed that argument. “Are you sure that in case of fresh elections people will not accept money and will not vote for the Republican Party again?” she said. “I’m afraid I don’t have such confidence.”
Eduard Sharmazanov, the HHK spokesman, reiterated, meanwhile, that the authorities are not worried about the anti-Sarkisian protests planned by Pashinian’s party. “As far as political expediency is concerned, they will produce zero results,” he said, adding that the HHK has a “constitutional right” to pick the next prime minister.
The Tsarukian Bloc, which holds 31 seats in the 105-member parliament, claims to be in opposition to the Armenian government. However, Tsarukian and his associates refrain from attacking Sarkisian or voting against key government bills. Some Tsarukian Bloc lawmakers have openly stated in recent weeks that they support Sarkisian’s appointment as prime minister.