Armenian gov't backs away from early elections
The ruling My Step parliamentary faction in Armenia has decided not to hold early parliamentary elections, although Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan himself at the end of last year suggested that the country’s political forces begin consulting on the idea in 2021.
My Step said its decision was justified by the fact that “the proposal of the Prime Minister to hold early parliamentary elections did not receive a positive reaction from the parliamentary opposition, there is no request for early elections among the general public.”
And the very proposal of the authorities to hold elections was an attempt to resolve the internal political crisis in the country immediately after the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh.
The signing of the trilateral ceasefire agreement, signed in November 2020 by Pashinyan with the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia, has been assessed by the Armenian opposition as a ‘treacherous conspiracy and the voluntary surrender of territories.’ In this regard, protests began demanding the resignation of the government headed by Nikol Pashinyan.
The My Step parliamentary faction also said in a statement that it “continues to support the prime minister and the government in the implementation of the roadmap presented on November 18, 2020”, referring to Pashinyan’s plan to reform the cabinet of ministers and its activities after the war, which he presented in response to the demand for his resignation.
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The plan of the opposition consists of three points: the resignation of the current government including Pashinyan, the formation of a temporary government and then the conduct of snap elections.
Vazgen Manukyan, former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, has been nominated for the post of head of the interim opposition’s “Movement for the Salvation of the Homeland”, while other opposition parties remain scattered in their support for specific candidates.
Opposition groups called for a boycott of the elections without delay, and said that the authorities could not justify their actions and disqualify themselves.
The opposition’s reaction
The ruling bloc refused to hold early elections for three reasons, said Ishkhan Saghatelyan, a representative of the Supreme Body of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun Party.
“The first is that the one who is holding onto the prime minister’s chair has understood that he has no chance of being elected through elections. It’s just impossible.”
The second reason, according to Saghatelyan, is that the elections will lead to serious problems in the very team of the prime minister, as they “realized the danger of irrevocable loss of mandates.”
The third reason put forward by the oppositionist is the ‘false assessment of the situation by the authorities.’ Believing that the protest movement has already weakened, the authorities hope to “distract society with a false agenda.”
Saghatelyan says that now even more people will take to the streets, including those who wanted to free themselves from the current government through elections.
Naira Zohrabyan, MP of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party, also commented on the ruling bloc’s statement: “I thought that Nikol Pashinyan would not go to the early elections. He would have taken this step if he had reached a clear agreement with the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Gagik Tsarukyan and the leader of Bright Armenia Edmond Marukyan, which would have been expressed in a joint memorandum that neither Prosperous Armenia nor Bright Armenia”[the two opposition parties represented in parliament] will not nominate their candidates for the post of prime minister after his resignation.”
According to Zohrabyan, Pashinyan’s proposal was rejected, and the Prosperous Armenia Party “will not agree to any agreements with Nikol’s government.”
The leader of the Enlightened Armenia party, Edmon Marukyan, is confident that the authorities will soon return to the idea of holding elections.
He believes that one should not take the ruling faction’s statement seriously. The politician is convinced that early elections will definitely take place. The demand for the prime minister’s resignation, he said, remains on the opposition agenda, and the authorities’ statements are an attempt to divert the attention of the country’s residents from the problems that arose in the post-war period.