The PM's supporters had spoken out against the move, remaining uncertain on the issue until the last moment
In an interview with France 24 TV, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, stated that he plans to resign before 16 October.
“I can now say that early parliamentary elections will be held on either the 9th or 10th of December. In that regard, I must resign before 16 October,” he said.
Pashinyan’s supporters have been speaking out against his resignation, fearing that the ruling Republican party could return to power. No one knew for certain if the prime minister would resign until the interview was aired.
Why is Pashinyan resigning?
Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation is connected with his commitment to carrying out early parliamentary elections in Armenia. His resignation would start a process that could shut down the National assembly.
According to Armenia’s constitution, the parliament will have two weeks to elect a new prime minister. Should they fail to do so, parliament will be suspended and new parliamentary elections will be scheduled. The elections must take place no earlier than 30 or no later than 45 days from the prime minister’s resignation.
Why early parliamentary elections now?
Armenia has transferred to a full parliamentary system earlier this year. However, a peaceful revolution took place in the country immediately after these changes, with control transferred to a political power lacking parliamentary majority. Its leader, Nikol Pashinyan, is heading the government, but the parliament can block his decisions.
Most experts are of the opinion that the parliament does not reflect the will of the people in the current situation.
The sentiment is supported by the fact that during the April-May revolution of 2018 tens of thousands of people came out against the government which won the parliamentary elections.
Debates around the elections
The necessity of holding early parliamentary elections is agreed upon by all political forces in the country.
However, Pashinyan wants to hold them in the first half of December 2018, something three out of four parliamentary factions were against.
The former ruling Republican party has even proposed a legislature change in parliament which would block the suspension of the National assembly. This sparked a protest by thousands and a political crisis in the country. People came out on to the streets and surrounded the parliament building after Pashinyan called them to action. Once again the “revolutionary” prime minister found support.
Pashinyan and the parliamentary factions began negotiations which lead to signing a memorandum on holding early elections in December with the leader of the Prosperous Armenia party. Moreover, verbal consent regarding the election date came from members of the Dashnaktsutyun party as well as over ten Republican party members.
This means that the prime minister collected the necessary number of supporters and nothing could stand in the way of holding the elections in December.
Pashinyan provided economic reasons for his decision to hold the elections in December. He says that investors are waiting for stability in Armenia, but proper conditions for doing business can only form after the elections are held.
Political scientists and opponents view Pashinyan as striving to solidify legislative powers while his ratings are high. The municipal elections in Yerevan a few weeks ago showed that his ratings remain high. My Step, the political bloc Pashinyan supported, received more than 80 per cent and secured the mayoral post.
What the prime minister’s opponents are hoping for
The former ruling party, as well as other opponents of the prime minister, claim that there is much preparation to do before the elections are held, including the legislative base for carrying out just elections. This is their only explanation for wanting to postpone the elections until May 2019.
However, Armenian experts assume that the real reason for wanting to postpone the elections is their hope that Pashinyan might lose his high ratings. For one, the social standing of most people has not changed, despite the positive steps taken by the new government, such as countering corruption.