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Armenian Coalition Hasn't Discussed Election Alliance

A senior representative of President Serzh Sarkisian's (pictured) Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has said coalition parties are looking for ways to cooperate in the elections.
YEREVAN -- The three political parties represented in Armenia's government have not yet negotiated on the possibility of jointly contesting the May parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

A senior representative of President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on December 9 that the HHK and its junior coalition partners, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Country of Law party are looking for ways of cooperating in the elections.

The remarks fueled speculation that the formation of an electoral alliance by them is being planned.

But Country of Law party leader Artur Baghdasarian insisted that none of three parties has even proposed such an alliance. "Even if they do, I don't think that now is the time to do that," he told RFE/RL on December 13.

Baghdasarian also did not rule out the possibility of the HHK, the BHK, and Country of Law contesting the elections with a joint list of candidates.

"It is possible that there will be coalition discussions on various internal and foreign policy issues facing the country," he said. "The same is true for the format of participating in the elections and rules for the election conduct."

In a February statement signed by Sarkisian, Baghdasarian, and BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian, the three parties pledged not to undermine each other in the May elections and to campaign for the incumbent president's reelection in 2013.

Tsarukian appeared to have distanced himself from that statement in early October, pointedly declining to reaffirm support for Sarkisian's reelection bid. His party's relationship with Sarkisian and the HHK has reportedly deteriorated since then.

Baghdasarian claimed, however, that there is no serious discord between the HHK and the BHK. "I believe that today there are no insurmountable differences within the political coalition," he said. "There is a businesslike atmosphere."

Baghdasarian, who is also the secretary of the presidential National Security Council, sounded cautious about government pledges to make sure the forthcoming elections are the most democratic in Armenia's history.

"As a politician and statesman, I believe that we are on the brink of a serious test," he said. "We must do everything to organize good elections."

In that context, Baghdasarian criticized opposition leaders who claim the authorities will not hesitate to rig the vote. "It is wrong to say right from the beginning that things will be bad," he said. "We should expect a positive outcome."

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