In a move which it linked with the upcoming presidential election, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) of Gagik Tsarukian effectively called late on Tuesday for a sweeping constitutional reform that would curb presidential powers and transform the country into a parliamentary republic.
Naira Zohrabian, a senior BHK figure, said the opposition-leaning party, which boasts the second largest parliamentary faction, will hold talks with other major political forces in the next few days to “see if there is any possibility of rallying around this idea.”
“The transition to the parliamentary form of governance presupposes that the president elected in 2013 would serve for up to four years and, together with other political forces, enact corresponding constitutional amendments by the next parliamentary elections in 2017,” Zohrabian said in a written statement.
The Armenian constitution sets the presidential term in office at five years.
“We believe that this approach could become a serious ideological basis for the consolidation and cooperation of various political forces in the presidential election,” added Zohrabian. She did not specify if the offer is primarily addressed to President Serzh Sarkisian or the Armenian opposition.
The idea of a switch to the parliamentary republic has long been advocated by most Armenian opposition parties. But it has been rejected until now by President Serzh Sarkisian and his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Galust Sahakian, an HHK deputy chairman, said on Wednesday that the ruling party will consider holding the proposed negotiations if it receives a formal offer from the BHK. “We are ready to discuss any issue,” Sahakian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Discussing something doesn’t mean accepting it.”
Levon Zurabian, the parliamentary leader of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), likewise said the opposition alliance is ready to discuss the proposal if it is approached by Tsarukian’s party.
Another opposition force, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), also expressed readiness to negotiate with the BHK. “Of course, with this statement the BHK may be trying to solve some tactical issues, but that is natural,” Aghvan Vartanian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, told RFE/RL’s Armenia service (Azatutyun.am).
Zohrabian’s statement did not say whether the BHK has finally decided to back Sarkisian’s reelection bid or nominate its own presidential candidate.