Armenia to hold snap elections on June 20 after protracted gov’t, opposition standoff
Snap elections in Armenia
After drawn out negotiations between the opposition and the government since the end of the second Karabakh war in late 2020, snap parliamentary elections in Armenia have been scheduled for June 20.
The date was announced on PM Pashinyan’s Facebook page.
Pashinyan wrote that the political forces in the country had finally came to a consensus that this is the best way out of the protracted crisis.
This message was preceded by political consultations with the president of Armenia, as well as the leaders of the two opposition parties represented in the parliament.
On March 18, shortly before the prime minister announced the date of the elections, PM Pashinyan met with the head of the Prosperous Armenia faction Gagik Tsarukyan. A meeting with the head of the Bright Armenia party Edmond Marukyan took place on March 15.
The opposition has been demanding the resignation of PM Nikol Pashinyan since he signed a truce agreement with Azerbaijan over hostilities that lasted 44 days in the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
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PM’s meeting with Tsarukyan
The prime minister’s meeting with the leader of the Prosperous Armenia party, Gagik Tsarukyan, was long awaited in the country and the reasons for the delay were not announced. On the morning of March 18, it became known that during the day it would finally take place.
After lunch, the Prime Minister announced on his Facebook page that he had already met with Gagik Tsarukyan.
“Taking into account the consultations I had with the president, the [ruling] My Step faction, the leader of the Bright Armenia faction Edmond Marukyan, early parliamentary elections will be held in the republic on June 20 this year,” Pashinyan wrote.
And the leader of the Bright Armenia opposition faction, after a meeting with the prime minister, wrote on his Facebook page that the people should decide whom to entrust the state to:
“A few days ago I said that in order to get the country out of the difficult situation, it is necessary to form a new government as soon as possible. The only legitimate way for this is early parliamentary elections.”
Why it took so long to resolve the issue of elections
PM Pashinyan has previously proposed this way out of the political crisis.
But first, he wanted to get a memorandum signed with the opposition parties represented in parliament. They were expected to refuse to nominate their candidates for the post of prime minister after the resignation of the current head of government.
According to the country’s constitution, in order to dissolve parliament and hold early elections, the current prime minister must resign, and the National Assembly must twice fail the election of a new head of government.
If the opposition nominated candidates and the parliament elected a new prime minister, the elections would not have taken place. However, the ruling force has a majority in parliament, and such fears, according to experts, had no solid grounds.
The position of the extra-parliamentary opposition
The united opposition parties of Armenia, which are not represented in parliament, have been actively fighting in the streets and promoting the resignation of the prime minister and the entire government since autumn 2020. They believe that holding early elections under the current government will be fraught with falsification of the results.
Therefore, they demand first the removal of the current government and the formation of a new one – under the leadership of their candidate for the post of prime minister, and then the holding of elections.
The candidate for the post of prime minister from the opposition Movement to Save the Motherland, Vazgen Manukyan, said that the elections under the current government “are capable of damaging Armenia”:
“Holding elections amid this chaos and external threat is absurd. And instead of taking our country out of this situation, it will complicate it even more. The problem is in preventing the destruction of the state, which requires the departure of the current government. “
Social media reactions
The opinions of Armenian Facebook users were divided.
Some welcomed the prime minister’s decision to hold elections in the summer, while others are outraged that the head of government has not yet announced his resignation.
Here are some comments:
“What an interesting thing this life is. In 2018, for the first time with such enthusiasm, I went to the elections and cast my vote for you [My Step, the leader of which is current PM Pashinyan], without even looking at the list of other candidates. Now I am also looking forward to this day, to see who the other candidates will be, so as not to choose you!”
“Whoever will vote for Pashinyan and his team will vote for Aliyev and Erdogan, albeit without specifying their names in the ballots.”
“These oppositionists are interesting politicians. Everyone wants elections after the resignation of the current prime minister. Why? Probably, Nikol warned them that he would not allow bribery of the electors! In this case, they have a scanty opportunity to be elected!”
“The candidate from the opposition Movement to Save the Motherland, Vazgen Manukyan, was already in office and proved that he was ‘not so hot’. This is the one who gave the ‘go-ahead’ to sell all the property of the country – plants and factories that remained after the collapse of the Soviet Union! For the sake of fairness, I will note that he has merits before the state. But what he and his company did afterwards canceled out all the good things I knew about him.”
“This is the wrong move, you will spend a huge amount of money on nothing. You are the legitimate prime minister, period! And the so-called opposition should have been at least imprisoned long ago!”
“Pashinyan was supposed to submit a letter of resignation, not appoint elections! How can you believe that he will give up his chair as prime minister?”