Showdown: PAP-RPA trade barbs ahead of capital election

Showdown: PAP-RPA trade barbs ahead of capital election


Eduard Sharmazanov, Tigran Urikhanayn

As Yerevan city council elections approach passions have flared up, voiced in sharp criticism and insults, between the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and its once coalitional partner Prosperous Armenia.

While the senior members of these two parties show more restrained behavior, younger members have taken up the fight in what one of the leading local newspaper’s editor-in-chief has termed the “young wings’ stardom”.
Similar tension grew between the two parties in 2012, prior to the parliamentary elections, when PAP was still part of the ruling coalition.

The lead part in the RPA-PAP battles is PAP spokesman, MP Tigran Urikhanayn who voiced criticism from the parliamentary rostrum against current mayor Taron Margaryan, topping the RPA list in the city council elections, in particular pointing out the municipality’s “pointless” expenses, which do not alleviate Yerevan residents’ burden.

“Co-starring” is RPA spokesman, parliament vice-speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, who said that “RPA and PAP are in different weight categories.”

And yet the Republicans are especially quick in their response to the Facebook posts by Vartan Oskanian, topping the PAP list for the municipal elections. Oskanian talks about the issues challenging the Armenian capital and makes suggestions on possible solutions.

Young Republican MP Karen Avagyan responding to Oskanian’s Facebook posts asked the former foreign minister why he did not apply his “environmental ambitions and urban development taste” when he was a government member and according to Avagyan it is during those years that Yerevan’s architectural exterior was being distorted.

Sharmazanov, in turn, accused PAP on Wednesday of abandoning its electorate.

“PAP, taking away the votes of the oppositional electorate, voicing sharp criticism of the ruling administration, promising big changes to voters, and then not participating in the country’s most crucial political process, such as the presidential elections, has disappointed its voters by leaving its electorate up to the whims of fate, after which it had no right to participate, for example, in the Yerevan city hall election,” said Sharmazanov.

While some analysts believe RPA-PAP confrontation is just a show, Edgar Vardanyan, expert at the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, regards this tension as a “clan confrontation” conditioned by re-distribution of resources.

“It is not like the confrontation is fictional, not that it is a ‘theatre’, it does exist. Meaning that from time to time when opportunities are created for re-distribution of resources these groups or clans start a showdown trying to pocket as much as possible. It mostly starts prior to elections, then subsides for a while. Then each within the limits of their resources continue their activities, keep their presence in the country’s political and economic fields,” says the expert, adding that it is not accidental that PAP has never called itself opposition.

“They say they are an alternative, but it is because they are, in fact, alternative to one ruling group, meaning they have their place in the general oligarchic framework and in that field one group is competing with the other,” says Vardanyan.