Vote 2013: Sargsyan reelection bid appears unimpeded following Tsaru

Vote 2013: Sargsyan reelection bid appears unimpeded following
Tsarukyan’s decision

VOTE 2013 | 14.12.12 | 13:25

Photolure

Analysts say Serzh Sargsyan is destined to repeat this scene following
the February election.
By SIRANUYSH GEVORGYAN
ArmeniaNow reporter

Most political analysts in Armenia consider the outcome of the
upcoming presidential election to be almost a foregone conclusion
after Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) leader Gagik Tsarukyan bowed out
of the forthcoming race.

The local political thought seems to come to consensus that President
Serzh Sargsyan will get an easy reelection in the February 18 vote in
the absence of such a political heavyweight, while no new no-nonsense
challenge has emerged yet.

After months of speculation about his possible presidential bid tycoon
Tsarukyan told his party on Wednesday that he would not join the fray
after all, leading PAP to decide not to name a candidate at all, while
also withholding support to any other presidential hopeful.

After the announcement that came following a meeting of the PAP
Political Council, attention has reasonably shifted to the opposition
Armenian National Congress (ANC), whose leader’s apparent hopes
connected with PAP’s bid have not been fulfilled.

Former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who already unsuccessfully ran
against Sargsyan five years ago, now has to come up with a decision
whether he makes another bid or lets another senior member of his
coalition run instead. No details have been officially released of the
ongoing discussions within the ANC, but media have been awash with
assumptions in this regard.

The radical opposition Haykakan Zhamanak daily (founded by current ANC
lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan, who has repeatedly spoken against
cooperation with PAP) writes in its Friday issue that the alliance
held a special meeting Thursday, with the PAP statement being the only
issue on the agenda of the discussions. `Following the meeting its
participants adopted a statement, which, according to our information,
contains three main messages: PAP informed ANC of its decisions before
making it public; it is good that PAP does not support Serzh Sargsyan;
ANC will continue to negotiate with PAP.’

Another Yerevan daily, 168 Zham, has similar information. It predicts
that the opposition alliance will continue to flirt with PAP, trying
to present its decision to the public at large as Tsarukyan’s
`cheating’ Sargsyan rather than the ANC.

Meanwhile, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) seems to be
regarding much of PAP’s potential electorate to be its own now that
the Tsarukyan party has announced it won’t take part in the election.
Education and Science Minister Armen Ashotyan, who is Deputy Chairman
of the RPA, talking to media on Thursday, expressed confidence that
`many PAP members, though not very actively, still will support the
RPA candidate with their heart and soul.’

Before that, former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, who joined PAP
before last May’s parliamentary election, broke his silence via
Facebook yesterday. Oskanian, who has positioned himself as an
advocate of a more active fight to `break the political monopoly of
the RPA’, said the decision wasn’t an easy one and that there were
different opinions in the party’s political council. He also hinted at
his disagreeing with the decision.

`Months ago I published my opinion that PAP should nominate its own
candidate taking into account its weight, [popularity] ratings, as
well as the possibilities of being an alternative and reaching an
agreement [with other forces] around a single candidate. Considering
the domestic political situation, difficulties in nominating a single
candidate and PAP Chairman Gagik Tsarukyan’s decision against running
for president, the PAP Political Council found it expedient not to
participate in the presidential election with an own candidate and not
to support another candidate. Despite the fact that I had a different
vision of our steps and further struggle, I still respect the decision
that has been made,’ wrote the former foreign minister.

The next 10-day period will bring more clarity in the ultimate lineup
of candidates in the February 18 election as most political forces
will hold their conventions and gatherings regarding the matter. The
Republican Party is due to nominate its leader and incumbent president
Serzh Sargsyan at the gathering on Saturday. The Heritage Party is
expected to name its leader Raffi Hovannisian as another candidate.
The congresses of the Armenian National Movement (a key ANC member)
and the Hanrapetutyun party, which left the ANC earlier this year, are
likely to complete the picture. Presidential candidates are required
to submit documents to the Central Electoral Commission for
registration between December 25 and January 4.

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