The two largest minority groups in Armenia may field a single candidate at next year’s presidential election, it emerged following what was described as their “political consultations” on Monday.
Levon Zurabian, the head of the parliamentary faction of the main opposition bloc, Armenian National Congress (HAK), did not rule out the possibility of their contesting the February vote together with the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a former ruling coalition member that has increasingly been opposed to the government lately.
After the meeting held as part of the consultations launched by the BHK ahead of the presidential election, the senior HAK representative said: “I think that this possibility can not be ruled out.”
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) Zurabian did not elaborate as to whether the matter concerned their support for an HAK candidate, such as ex-president and leader of the alliance Levon Ter-Petrosian, or a BHK candidate, such as the party’s millionaire leader Gagik Tsarukian or lawmaker and former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian. He only said that revealing further details could only harm the ongoing talks.
Following recent meetings with members of its regional chapters the BHK said the prevailing opinion among party members was that it should contest the upcoming election with its own candidate and that it candidate should be Tsarukian.
Oskanian, who represented the BHK at the meeting with HAK representatives, positively evaluated the talks, saying that the issue of a presidential candidate could be discussed at the next stage of negotiations.
"I can say that there are at least similarities. For now we will not speak about details, there are no agreements yet... This is only a beginning," said Oskanian.
The BHK reported progress in similar talks with another parliamentary opposition group, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), on Saturday.
Dashnaktsutyun indicated last week that it was ready to support a presidential candidate who would espouse the idea of Armenia’s becoming a parliamentary republic where the National Assembly would be elected on the basis of party lists without any representation by members elected from single-seat constituencies.
Earlier, these two issues had been advanced by the BHK as a possible platform for broad-based cooperation among various opposition parties and groups ahead of the February presidential election.
BHK parliamentary faction secretary Naira Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Saturday that during their meeting with Dashnaktsutyun held behind closed doors the two parties agreed at least around “the need for serious system changes” in Armenia. She said political consultations with Dashnaktsutyun and other forces supportive of the idea would continue.
Earlier, both Dashnaktsutyun and the HAK presented a broader range of issues for discussion as part of the consultations ahead of the 2013 election.