Former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) on Tuesday called for the holding of snap general elections in Armenia next year, saying that opposition groups are underrepresented in the country’s current parliament.
“We need pre-term elections in 2020 that would be ideological,” said HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov. “Pre-term elections are needed … so that the opposition can counterbalance the government in the parliament.”
Sharmazanov argued that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step bloc controls 88 of the 132 seats in the National Assembly and is therefore in a position to push through constitutional bills that need to be backed by at least 80 lawmakers.
“No government of Armenia has had as much unlimited power as Pashinian has now,” he claimed at a news conference. “This is abnormal.”
The HHK, which is still headed by Sarkisian, dominated political life in Armenia for nearly two decades, winning just about every national election held from 1999-2017. Virtually all of those elections were marred by vote buying, voter intimidation or other serious irregularities reported by opposition groups and media.
The former ruling party and its top leader lost power during last year’s “Velvet Revolution” sparked by Sarkisian’s attempt to extend his decade-long rule. It got 4.7 percent of the vote and failed to win any parliament seats in snap elections held in December 2018.
According to a U.S.-funded opinion poll released earlier this month, only 4 percent of Armenians would vote for the HHK if another election was held now, compared with 55 percent support enjoyed by Pashinian’s bloc. The poll also showed that businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) would finish second with 19 percent, followed by another opposition party, Bright Armenia (LHK).
Both the BHK and the LHK are represented in the current parliament. Sharmazanov questioned their opposition credentials, saying that they supported “the so-called revolution” and joined Pashinian’s first cabinet formed in May 2018.
Earlier this month, an Armenian law-enforcement agency brought corruption charges against Sarkisian. The ex-president and his party reject them as politically motivated. Sharmazanov again deplored the “fabricated” case on Tuesday.
Sarkisian was indicted two weeks after addressing a congress of the European People’s Party held in Croatia. In his speech, he accused Armenia’s current leadership of jeopardizing democracy and stifling dissent. He also claimed that Pashinian’s political team has failed to bring about “revolutionary changes” promised by it.