Ruling Party Eyes Another Election Victory

Naira Bulghadarian

The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) expects to retain control of Yerevan’s municipal administration as a result of elections scheduled for May 5, according to a senior HHK official.

Voters in Yerevan will go to the polls to elect a new municipal assembly empowered to appoint the city’s mayor. The vote will be held on a party-list basis.

The HHK’s governing body headed by President Serzh Sarkisian met late on Thursday to approve its top three candidates for the polls. The list will be topped by Yerevan’s incumbent Mayor Taron Markarian, meaning that he will retain his post if the presidential party wins the majority of seats in the Council of Elders.

“The Republican Party has all chances of achieving success under the leadership of the incumbent mayor,” Eduard Sharmazanov, the HHK spokesman and a deputy parliament speaker, told journalists after the meeting.

“We believe that democracy is a competition open to everyone. And in that free, fair and open competition we have all chances of receiving a vote of confidence from the population of our capital,” he said.

Sharmazanov implied that the HHK will win the elections even if Armenia’s main opposition groups join forces to challenge it.

The idea of a broad-based opposition electoral alliance was proposed by the Armenian National Congress (HAK) earlier this week. The proposal was addressed to the opposition Zharangutyun and Dashnaktsutyun parties as well as Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).

The HAK refused to recognize the legitimacy of the HHK’s victory in the last municipal polls held in 2009, alleging widespread fraud. The opposition bloc led by Levon Ter-Petrosian also decided not to take up its council seats in protest.