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Free Democrats Won’t be Running Against Opposition Candidates in Parliamentary Elections

The reason for establishing the Free Democrats party is because liberal ideology has regressed in Armenia, said party leader Khachatur Kokobelyan, speaking to journalists in Yerevan today.

“It’s obvious that there are more political parties in Armenia than there should’ve been if there was a normal political system. We’re all liberals, and we are deeply convinced that liberalism has retreated in the current political situation. Many of our party’s members were active participants of the 2008 movement [contesting the presidential election], lest it seem pompous,” he said, adding that the prominent opposition bloc the Armenian National Congress (HAK) is no longer a liberal force but sees itself as a social-democratic force.

“We’ve had our differences with HAK, connected to ways of organizing, tactics and strategy. The reason for breaking away [from HAK] is that we didn’t want there to be any up and down. But Armenia’s main problem is not the discord between HAK and us. The opposition force was unable to take control of the vote the people gave it in 2008, to make its voice heard. I don’t think it’s a citizen’s role to stand up for his voice. This is the number one issue for politicians,” he said.

According to the party leader, the electoral system is the most important for the people’s voice to be heard.

“In 1991, we didn’t have an electoral code, but the lawfulness of those elections has never been disputed,” he said, implying that transitioning to proportional representation from a majority voting system is not a mandatory condition for democratic elections. Nevertheless, Kokobelyan said that he supports the move to a 100% proportional representation system, though he doesn’t consider such a change before the May parliamentary elections to be realistic. Furthermore, focusing on this, according to Kokobelyan, is wrong.

The party hasn’t yet decided on who to nominate as candidates in the majority electoral districts, but, according to Kokobelyan, since the opposition’s resources are quite limited, Free Democrats won’t have candidates in those constituencies where there are other opposition candidates.

“We’re trying to create a situation where there’s an ideological struggle and not a struggle of resources. I haven’t seen an ideological disagreement between ruling parties. I don’t approve of many aspects of, for example, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation [Dashnaktsutyun, or ARF-D], but we can’t argue that ARF-D is an ideological party,” he said.