Dashnaktsutyun announced its decision to participate in snap parliamentary elections expected in June after a party congress held over the weekend. It said the congress authorized the party’s governing body in Armenia to decide whether to do so separately or in an alliance with other opposition forces.
“As regards the format of our participation, when the elections are [officially] announced we will discuss that and announce our final decision,” the head of the body, Ishkhan Saghatelian, told reporters. “Political consultations are going on right now.”
Saghatelian said that the consultations are being held with various political groups and figures, including Kocharian.
Armenian media outlets have reported in recent weeks that Dashnaktsutyun is likely to join forces with Kocharian. The ex-president stated earlier this month that he will lead an alliance comprising at least two opposition parties.
Kocharian, who is highly critical of the current Armenian government, governed the country from 1998-2008. Dashnaktsutyun was allied to him during his rule.
The party, which has branches in major Armenian communities around the world, is not represented in the current parliament, having garnered only about 4 percent of the vote in the last elections held in December 2018.
Saghatelian insisted that Dashnaktsutyun will do much better if it participates in the upcoming elections on its own. “But our goal in these elections is not to win parliament seats. Our supreme goal is to get rid of this government of evil,” he said.
Dashnaktsutyun is a key member of the Homeland Salvation Movement, a coalition of more than a dozen opposition groups that have held street protests in recent months in a bid to topple Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian over his handling of last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Pashinian has refused to step down and pledged to hold the snap elections instead.
Although the Homeland Salvation Movement has insisted that such polls be held by an interim government, only one of its members, former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), has called for an election boycott so far. Other parties affiliated with the alliance, notably Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party, made clear their intention to join the parliamentary race already in March.
Saghatelian admitted that these differences have weakened the opposition movement. But he did not rule out more anti-government protests in the weeks ahead.