Differences Seen in New Election Alliance

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The political parties of Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and Karen Demirchian admitted on Tuesday they have not yet agreed on who should represent their Miasnutyun alliance in the 75 single-mandate constituencies in the next parliament. But a representative of Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia played down difficulties with declaring common candidates–saying that they will be overcome before the parliamentary elections get underway on May 30.

Miasnutyun–touted as the favorite to win the vote–comprises the Republican Party and Demirchian’s People’s Party of Armenia. The bloc has already unveiled its list of candidates for the proportional system–under which 56 of the 131 deputies are to be elected. However–in 14 of the 75 individual constituencies–members of both allied parties have applied for registration and it is unclear who is officially backed by Miasnutyun.

"We have not come to a common denominator in all constituencies," Hmayak Hovannisian–a senior member of the People’s Party–told RFE/RL. He said in those electoral districts where the bloc will be unable to agree on a single candidate–the two parties will stand on their own. According to the Republican Party’s deputy chairman Tigran Torosian–the number of such districts will be eventually "very low." He hinted that most of the redundant candidates will be told quit the race. "There is nothing extraordinary in that–things are going well. Just wait a little bit," Torosian told RFE/RL.

Miasnutyun draws its strength from the overwhelming control of local self-government bodies by Sargsyan’s Republicans–and from the popularity of Demirchian–who headed the Armenian Communist Party from 1974 to 1988–a period of relative prosperity for many Armenia’s.

People’s Party candidates will be representing Miasnutyun in 24 constituencies–while the Republican Party will contest at least 27 seats under the majoritarian system. In 13 constituencies there are two or more Republicans competing with each other. Many of Demirchian’s allies are challenged by influential candidates who are considered to be pro-government although they are not Republican Party members.

In another sign of existing differences between the powerful defense minister and former Communist boss–the People’s Party’s Hovannisian said he does not know if the bloc will issue a joint election platform. However–the Republicans’ Torosian assured that all of Miasnutyun’s candidates will enjoy full support of the two parties’ local structures. The bloc’s campaign headquarters–co-chaired by an Republican Party and People’s Party representative is already operating. Torosian said Miasnutyun’s campaign offices will also be opened across the country.

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