A senior member of former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on Thursday that it is unlikely to nominate a new mayor of Yerevan who can be elected by the HHK-controlled municipal council.
The previous, Republican mayor, Taron Markarian, resigned on Monday under pressure from the new Armenian government and its political allies.
Under Armenian law, the city council has to elect a new mayor within a month. Failure to do so would give the central government the right to disband the legislature and hold snap elections in the capital. This is the preferred scenario of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Yelk alliance.
The 63-seat council scheduled a vote on the mayor for July 16. The HHK, which holds 46 seats there, Yelk and the third political group represented in the council, the Yerkir Tsirani party, have not yet named candidates for the vacant post.
“We don’t yet have a candidate,” said Sergey Mkrtchian, the leader of the HHK faction in the council. “That issue hasn’t been discussed. But I think that we will probably not [field a mayoral candidate.]”
“But that is my opinion. We will hold a faction meeting and see,” he added.
The HHK’s possible decision not to seek to replace Markarian by another party member on July 16 would most probably require the conduct of municipal elections in early September. Accordingly, campaigning for them would start in August, a traditional period of summer holidays and political calm in Armenia.
Yelk wants the polls to be held a few weeks later. Its top Yerevan councilor, Davit Khazhakian, argued that political forces need more time to prepare for the mayoral race. He said the council should therefore meet and vote on the next mayor on August 8.