Experts speculate about the government’s possible nominees, while the opposition is going to propose its own candidate
There has been lively discussions in Armenia recently on who the next president of the country will be. However, the fourth president will not enjoy the same powers as his forerunners.
Under the constitutional amendments, starting from April 2018 the country will be governed by the Prime-Minister, while the president’s powers will be limited: his role will be solely representative, as is the case in other countries with the parliamentary system of government.
Despite that, there are active discussions in the country’s political circles as to who is going to assume this post. The incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan’s term in office expires on 9 April whereafter political parties are expected to introduce their presidential candidates to the National Assembly.
The ideal image of Armenia’s fourth president
Speaking at a meeting with Armenia’s intellectuals yesterday, the Armenian President Serh Sargsyan shared his views on the country’s next would-be president. According to Sargsyan, Armenia’s future leader should have the following characteristics:
- an individual with vast experience;
- a person who is well-known within the country as well as beyond its borders;
- a person able to properly represent Armenia abroad;
- a person with a good command of foreign languages;
- a person with wide-ranging contacts in Armenia as well as with diaspora compatriots;
- a reputable person;
- an unbiased person;
- an individual who has never been engaged in politics, and
- a nonpartisan person.
Experts have so far been unable to think of a person who ideally fits the bill. In their opinion, it’s no coincidence that Sargsyan announced that the next president should be a person who has never been engaged in politics before. He has effectively removed several potential contenders from the game.
The three most likely candidates who were under consideration by expert circles prior to this statement was:
- Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian;
- Chairman of the Constitutional Court Gagik Harutyunyan;
- Ex-President of Nagorno-Karabakh Arkadiy Ghukasyan.
Meanwhile, the analysts believe that a person with no political background can’t become Armenia’s next president.
“No matter how formal and symbolic the president’s role is, it can’t be a person without a political background, who has never been involved in political processes. It doesn’t make sense. You will hardly find a single person in Armenia who’s not engaged in politics. Public activity is also political just like diplomatic work. We can’t elect a cleaner to ensure that he’s not linked to politics, can we?” said Armen Badalyan, a political analyst.
Sargsyan’s fellow party members have stated that they have not considered a presidential candidate as yet and that the latter will be named after discussions are held.
“It’s not that there is going to be a single presidential candidate and we will consider only one nominee. We may choose a presidential candidate from several nominees,” said Vaghram Baghdasaryan, the head of the parliamentary faction of the ruling Republican Party.
According to the Republican Party spokesman, the party will nominate its presidential candidate in the near future. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun, which is a part of the ruling coalition, is also more likely to support this presidential candidate.
Moreover, the second largest parliamentary faction Tsarukyan (which has positioned itself as an opposition force) may also support a pro-governmental candidate. The leader of the Tsarukyan bloc, businessman Gagik Tsarukyan didn’t rule out the possibility, saying anything could happen in politics.
The opposition has a presidential candidate but no sufficient mandates
Another parliamentary opposition faction Yelk has named its presidential candidate – Artak Zeynalyan, an MP and lawyer.
However, the Yelk faction does not have sufficient mandates to nominate a candidate. Under the Constitution, only a political party who holds a quarter of the seats in parliament is entitled to nominate a candidate. To obtain a sufficient number of mandates the Yelk faction has already appealed to the Tsarukyan bloc, requesting to support its candidate. However, Yelk has not received any response as yet from the opposition colleagues.
According to the Armenian Constitution, any individual who has reached the age of forty, who has held citizenship of the Republic of Armenia and who has permanently resided in the country for the preceding six years, who is eligible to vote and has command of the Armenian language may be elected as president of the Republic.
The president of Armenia is elected for a period of seven years during which they may not hold membership in any political party. Presidents may not be elected for more than one consecutive term.