YEREVAN — Campaigning officially began in Armenia on Monday for the June 20 snap parliamentary elections aimed at ending a serious political crisis resulting from last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Twenty-six political parties and blocs are vying for 101 seats in the next Armenian parliament that will decide the political future of the country.
The parties will need to win at least 5 percent of the vote in order to be represented in the National Assembly. The legal vote threshold for blocs is set at 7 percent.
Acting Prime Minister, leader of the Civil contract party Nikol Pashinyan is convinced that on June 20 “Armenian citizens will re-establish their power.”
“We will not even say “people, vote for us”, we will say “people, vote for yourself,” Pashinyan said at the start of the campaign.
“On June 20 you will decide again, and we will obey. If you decide that we should continue to lead the country, we will. If you decide we shouldn’t, we will go,” Pashinyan said. .
As he campaigned in Armavir, Pashinyan lambasted the two ex-presidents Kocharian and Sarkisian and said that they will be brought to justice for what their past corrupt practices if he retains power. He also reiterated his calls for voters to hand him a landslide victory in the upcoming elections.
“We expect at least 60 percent of the vote … We must uproot the political forces that want to provoke a civil war in Armenia,” he said at a rally held in the village of Parakar.
The main challengers of Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party are the two opposition parties represented in the outgoing parliament as well as blocs led by the country’s three former presidents: Levon Ter-Petrosian, Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian.
Kocharian and his opposition allies making up the Hayastan (Armenia) bloc campaigned, meanwhile, in southeastern Syunik province. The ex-president held a rally in the provincial capital Kapan on Monday evening.
Unlike Kocharian, Sarkisian is not seeking to become prime minister or even a parliament deputy. His Republican Party (HHK) has formed an alliance with the opposition Fatherland party of Artur Vanetsyan, a former head of Armenia’s National Security Service.
Edmon Marukyan, the leader of the parliamentary Bright Armenia Party (LHK), expressed serious concern over mounting tensions between the ruling party and the radical opposition forces led by the two ex-presidents. He claimed that they could plunge the country into a “civil war.”
Marukyan said Armenians can prevent it by voting for his party in large numbers. “Or else, if one of those sides succeeds it will seek to destroy the other,” he told reporters while marching through Yerevan together with his associates.
Marukyan expects to get the ballots of the majority of the 40% undecided voters in order to bring solidarity and rule out clashes in the country.
Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the other opposition party represented in the outgoing parliament, it held its first campaign rally in Abovian, a town 15 kilometers north of Yerevan has long been BHK leader Gagik Tsarukyan’s political stronghold.
The BHK is running in the snap parliamentary elections under the slogan “Safe Homeland, Powerful State.”
Armenia’s first President, leader of the Armenian National Congress Party Levon Ter-Petrosyan urged his teammates to be calm and cold-hearted during the election campaign.
“Never get into an argument with opponents, let them swear, let them do whatever they want. Your arguments are so powerful that you absolutely do not need to get involved in such arguments. Leave it to them,” Levon Ter-Petrosyan said.