Governing Parties to Renew Coalition Deal

From left leaders of the Prosperous Armenia Party, Serzh Sarkisian and Artur Baghdasarian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The three political parties represented in Armenia’s outgoing government will sign a new power-sharing agreement after all, one of their leading members predicted on Tuesday.

“Discussions on the formation of a [new governing] coalition are taking place within the framework of Orinats Yerkir (Country of Law), the Republican Party and the Prosperous Armenia Party,” said Heghine Bisharian, deputy chairwoman of the Country of Law. “After this negotiating process is over I think that a coalition will be formed by these three political forces.”

Bisharian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that her party and the Republicans have already agreed on the parameters of their continued cooperation and only need to clarify cooperation terms with the third coalition partner. The talks with the Prosperous Armenia will end “soon,” she said.

Hmayak Hovannisian, a prominent politician who ran for the parliament on the Prosperous Armenia ticket, likewise said on Monday that the party led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian has agreed in principle to remain part of the government despite questioning official results of the May 6 parliamentary elections. He said the Prosperous Armenia and the Republican Party are currently trying to ascertain which ministerial portfolios will be given to Tsarukian. A senior Republican Party representative did not confirm this, however.

Country of Law is the smallest of the three governing parties. It controls the ministries of agriculture, emergencies and transport in the current Armenian government that will be replaced by a new cabinet as a result of the elections. Bisharian could not say whether the party led by Artur Baghdasarian, secretary of the presidential National Security Council, will retain these positions.

According to the official election results, Country of Law garnered 5.4 percent of the vote, just enough to enter the new National Assembly under the proportional representation system. It will have 6 seats in the 131-member legislature, compared with at least 69 seats won by President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republicans and 37 seats by Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia.

The vote tally also raised questions about Baghdasarian’s recent claims that Country of Law has as many as 150,000 members. According to the Central Election Commission, only some 83,000 Armenians voted for the party.

Commenting on this discrepancy, Bisharian said that tens of thousands of Country of Law members sold their votes to other parties that she declined to name. “I must say that a fairly serious process of vote buying took place,” she said. “Our compatriots simply did not resist that temptation. This is certainly unfortunate, this is certainly a tragedy.”

All three coalition parties and the Republicans in particular faced opposition allegations of vote buying throughout the parliamentary race. Armenia’s leading opposition groups claim that the illegal practice greatly influenced the election outcome. The Republican Party denies this.

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