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Opposition Party Blames Kocharian For Poor Election Showing


Armenia - Edmon Marukian, the leader of the Bright Armenia Party, speaks at an election campaign meeting in Yerevan, June 18, 2021.

The leader of the Bright Armenia Party (LHK), one of the two opposition groups represented in the outgoing Armenian parliament, on Thursday blamed former President Robert Kocharian for its failure to win any seats in the new National Assembly.

According to official results of the June 20 elections, the LHK won only 1.2 percent of the vote, falling far short of the 5 percent legal threshold for entering the parliament. It had garnered 6.4 percent in the previous elections held in 2018.

LHK leader Edmon Marukian said his party was on course to clear the vote threshold until the last few days of campaigning marked by bitter recriminations traded by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and two hardline opposition alliances led by Kocharian and another former president, Serzh Sarkisian.

Marukian claimed that many LHK sympathizers deserted his camp after Kocharian’s Hayastan bloc held the biggest rally of the entire election campaign in Yerevan on June 18. He said they felt that Kocharian’s return power is a real possibility and that they should prevent it by voting for Pashinian’s Civil Contract party.

“Our representative in Yeghegnadzor told me that people are coming to the [local LHK] office and saying, ‘Sorry, we planned to vote for you but after seeing that rally we thought that they are returning [to power] and decided to give extra votes to the authorities so that it doesn’t happen,” he told a news conference.

Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan, June 18, 2021.
Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan, June 18, 2021.

The official results showed Civil Contract getting almost 54 percent of the vote, compared with 21 percent and 5.2 percent polled by Hayastan and Sarkisian’s Pativ Unem bloc respectively. Both opposition forces are expected to ask the Constitutional Court to overturn what they call fraudulent results.

During the 12-day election campaign, the LHK positioned itself as a viable alternative to Armenia’s current and former rulers. It pledged to form a “government of national unity” in case of making a strong showing in the polls.

“The megaphones of the current and former authorities were much stronger than ours,” complained Marukian. “Our voice was drowned out as a result.”

The LHK leader also accused Hayastan and Pativ Unem of helping Pashinian to stay in power. He said that lawmakers representing the radical opposition will be an easy target for the reelected prime minister.

Supporters of the two ex-presidents claim the opposite. They say that Pashinian will face “real opposition” in the parliament for the first time since coming to power more than three years ago.

Hardline critics of the Armenian government have for years questioned the LHK’s opposition credentials. They have accused Marukian of secretly cooperating with Pashinian, his erstwhile political ally.

Like other major opposition forces, Marukian’s party blamed the government for Armenia’s defeat in last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh. But it did not join street protests organized by them in an attempt to force Pashinian to resign.

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