Armenian parliament dissolved to allow early elections
On May 10, the National Assembly of Armenia did not elect a prime minister for the second time, thus meeting the necessary condition for the parliament to dissolve itself. As per the country’s constitution, in order to hold early parliamentary elections, after the resignation of the head of the Cabinet, the National Assembly must fail to elect a new prime minister twice.
Early elections will be held forty days after the dissolution of parliament and, until a new parliament is elected, the old one will continue to operate as usual.
The procedure for electing, or rather, non-electing, the prime minister was formal – it was announced in advance that early parliamentary elections would be held on June 20 following the agreement between the ruling bloc and two opposition parties to hold early elections in order to overcome the political crisis in the country.
A political crisis in Armenia occurred after the end of the second Karabakh in the fall of 2020. Immediately after the defeat of Armenia, the opposition demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who, in turn, stated that he was elected by the will of all citizens of the country and would not leave upon the request of the supporters of the opposition. There was only one way out of out the crisis – to hold early elections.
The parliament failed to elect the only candidate for the prime ministerial position, Nikol Pashinyan, for the first time on May 3.
However, the discussion of the candidacy was lengthy and became the reason for generalizing and evaluating everything that the ruling bloc managed and failed to achieve after coming to power in the spring of 2018, following the “Velvet Revolution”.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also spoke about the failures and successes of the ruling bloc and answered the questions of the MPs. Pashinyan addressed the conduct of elections, the successes, and failures of his team, and again answered the question about relations with Turkey. Pashinyan called the second Karabakh war the “biggest problem” of his government.
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About the war in Karabakh
Answering the question about what he would change if he could return to 2018, the prime minister said that the second Karabakh war was the “biggest problem” of his government, but the “point of no return”, according to Pashinyan, had come even before he came into power. It is not the first time that Pashinyan has said that the negotiation process on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict was failed by his predecessors.
In addition, Nikol Pashinyan stated that the circumstances of the second Karabakh war and the negotiation process should be investigated by a special parliamentary commission:
“I’m ready to go in for interrogation. My office and residence are also ready for a search, although during the well-known events they have already been subjected to a mini-search, and if there was something suspicious, they would have found it”.
Pashinyan proposed making the formation of a commission to investigate the 44-day war “one of the most important matters of the new parliament”.
On holding early elections
Nikol Pashinyan stressed that the Armenian authorities will not be able to rig the election results, even if they want to. He added that the institutional changes have taken place in the country, and now it is the people who actually decide who should be in power during the elections. In addition, election observation will be carried out more closely than ever:
“Video cameras of the Central Election Commission will be installed at 97% of polling stations in the country and they will broadcast live.
In addition to the CEC cameras, nowadays everyone has cameras on their phones. With their help, you can not only record, but also conduct a live broadcast. Confidants of candidates, whether from the ruling bloc or from the opposition, will be able to broadcast live from polling stations. It will not be an exaggeration to say that every ballot will be in the lens of TV cameras”.
More money goes to the budget
Speaking about the successes of his government, Pashinyan stressed that the government has lowered the rate of income tax, but the amount of revenues to the state budget has increased.
He explained that after the change of power in Armenia, the number of officially registered jobs in the country increased by 85,000, workers received labor rights, and the state received additional taxes to the budget.
Pashinyan said that additional amounts were received because it was possible to eradicate the long-standing tradition of companies paying an employee one salary, and indicating another, underestimating the amount in documents in order to evade taxes:
“In March 2021, compared to 2018, the total legal wage fund in the country increased by 36%, or 34 billion drams per month, and the average wage increased by about 20%”.
On relations with Ankara
The topic of Armenia’s relations with Turkey and fears that the Pashinyan government may be hiding from society any agreements with the leadership of Turkey continues to be exaggerated. Today, Pashinyan once again answered the question of whether the Turks are Armenia’s friends, enemies, or neighbors?
“What is the question, whether Turks are our enemy or not? This is not resolved through statements. This is a historical reality. The hostility must be managed, and we will take this path. The manifestation of uncontrollable hostility must not be allowed”, Nikol Pashinyan said.
“Turkey is our enemy, but also our neighbor, it just so happens that enemies are just among our neighbors, but the degree of hostility in relations with Ankara should be manageable”, Pashinyan added.