Partners in Government: RPA, ARF formalize political cooperation

The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) and the hitherto nominally opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF, Dashnaktsutyun) have formally agreed on political cooperation that will also give ARF members representation in the Armenian government.

An agreement on such cooperation was signed by deputy chairman of the RPA Armen Ashotyan and representative of the ARF Supreme Body Aghvan Vardanyan at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday.

President Serzh Sargsyan, the leader of the RPA, and another senior ruling party member, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan were present at the signing ceremony, as were the ARF's Armen Rustamyan and Hrant Markarian.

The document, according to Ashotyan, is neither about a post-election coalition or a pre-election bloc, but concerns “long-term cooperation” that proceeds from the party’s national ideologies and shared statesmanship and follows changes in the Constitution that have been advocated by both forces.

Under the current power-sharing deal the ARF has got three ministerial posts in the government – Minister of Education and Science (Levon Mkrtchyan), Minister of Economy (Artsvik Minasyan) and Minister of Territorial Administration and Development (David Lokyan). Dashnaktsutyun has also named governors for two Armenian provinces, Aragatsotn and Shirak.

The ARF was part of several coalitional governments in Armenia since 2003. The last time it participated in the RPA-dominated government was after the 2008 disputed presidential election. The party espousing the national and socialist ideology, however, quit the government a year later over the Sargsyan administration’s policy of rapprochement with Turkey.

As an advocate of a parliamentary form of government, the ARF was among the political forces that backed the relevant constitutional reform initiated by Sargsyan and approved in last year’s referendum. Since then, the ARF has also sought a role in implementing the reform.