Armenia: former ruling party to run in upcoming parliamentary elections
The former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) will run in the upcoming snap parliamentary elections.
Until the announcement, several RPA members were unsure as to whether they would participate or not.
The RPA lost its ruling position after the revolution that took place in Armenia earlier this spring. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan came to power and was elected prime minister with the backing of hundreds of thousands of people who came out to protest in the streets. Despite this, the RPA held on to its majority in parliament and has been able to prevent the revolutionary government from carrying out its programme.
The new government has accordingly begun the process of preparing for early parliamentary elections, despite serious opposition from the former ruling party and its supporters. Elections will be held on 9 December.
Who will represent the former ruling party in the elections?
Former Armenian Minister of Defence Vigen Sargsyan will head the party list. It is still unknown what the final list of RPA candidates will look like. Some names, however, have already appeared.
Former Minister of Justice David Harutyunyan will lead the campaign headquarters. According to rating lists, former Minister of Science and Education Armen Ashotyan will also take part in the elections.
Ex-president and RPA head Serzh Sargsyan will not take part in the election campaign. After resigning in April 2018, he withdrew from public political activities but continues to lead the party.
Several RPA oligarchs will not take part in the elections either. Many of them were responsible for providing the RPA with a significant percentage of votes and mandates for the previous elections in 2017.
The RPA’s plan
The RPA’s most high-profile candidate for the National Assembly, Vigen Sargsyan, has already announced that the RPA intends to become the main opposition force in the country. The former government does not agree with many of the activities of the present government:
“We believe that we have the opportunity to become the main opposition force. Our resources, knowledge and experience allow us to do this. In addition, we have fundamental disagreements with the current authorities, which will allow us to make full use of the status of opposition forces in order for us to have more efficient governance.”
Vigen Sargsyan criticised the current authorities’ decision to hold hasty elections in December:
“It undermines the political process and did not allow many political forces to adapt and plan their participation in a more logical and reasonable form. We have it easier – we have experience and enough structures to prepare for such an election. We are going to the polls, realising very well that one of the reasons for this haste is the enthusiasm that emerged from the ruling power after the elections in Yerevan. It is on this basis that their political calculations are made.”
In September the elections to the Council of Elders, the capital’s parliament, were held in Yerevan.
In these elections, Pashinyan’s political bloc My Step won a crushing victory over the other political forces. His party scored more than 80 per cent of the votes of Yerevan. Almost half of the country’s residents live in Yerevan. The election results thus confirmed the high popularity and approval rating of the new authorities and the opportunity to get a majority of mandates in the parliamentary elections.
What other political forces will take part in the elections?
The main contender is Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step bloc. There is no official information, but the list of the party is likely to be headed by Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
One of the richest people in Armenia, Gagik Tsarukyan, and his Prosperous Armenia party will also take part in the elections. The oligarch will be the first number on the party list.
Former comrades-in-arms in the Yelk faction who Nikol Pashinyan personally headed before the revolution, the Hanrapetutyun Party and Bright Armenia, will go to the polls separately. The Hanrapetutyun Party has already concluded a coalition agreement with the Free Democrats.
The dark horse of the parliamentary elections is the Sasna Tsrer party, which was formed around an armed group who seized a police station in the summer of 2016.