Nikol Pashinyan becomes head of Armenia

Nikol Pashinyan becomes head of Armenia

Armenia’s parliament elected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as the country’s new prime minister. In a vote in parliament today, 59 lawmakers backed Pashinyan’s candidacy, including some from the ruling Republican Party, with 42 voting against.

On May 1, only 45 parliament members voted in his favor, while he needed to receive at least 53 votes to become prime minister.

Nominated by the Yelk parliamentary faction, Pashinyan was the sole candidate for the prime minister’s seat. His predecessor, Serzh Sargsyan, resigned amid mass protests by the opposition. The protest actions caused the collapse of the ruling coalition.

Armenia's amended Constitution, adopted in the wake of the 2015 referendum, essentially expands the prime minister's authority.

Ex-mayor of Yerevan Vahagn Khachatryan, speaking with the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Pashinyan's election as prime minister is only one stage of the "revolution of love" announced by him. "The most important thing that need to be done by the new government is to present to the country what exactly they plan to do. First of all they need to organize the new parliamentary election, I think that the role of Pashinyan's government will be reduced to this. The Republican party still has the majority in the current parliament, and it will be difficult for the Pashinyan Cabinet to reform the system of state administration, if the parliament blocks its laws. So his team is likely to focus on holding the democratic, free and transparent election in the near future, the results of which will be received by Armenian citizens as a real fact," he pointed out.

A new stage of the "Rose Revolution" will take place within the framework of the intra-elite struggle. "Now the streets are supporting Nikol Pashinyan, but the streets have already said their word, and now the struggle starts at the highest level. In this sense, there is also a certain problem for Nikol Pashinyan and his government, as he will have to deal with the current problems of the country, not just the revolution. He will be prevented by the internal political struggle of elites and clans, which will unfold for a place in new Armenia," Vahagn Khachatryan warned.

The director of the Armenian branch of the CIS Institute, Alexander Makarov, spoke about the problems that Pashinyan's team will face in the future in more detail. "The victory over the Republican Party primarily involves creating a government with new ministers and proposing a concrete plan of action for the Cabinet. There are three possible scenarios. The first scenario is cooperation with the Republican Party of Armenia. The second scenario is when the Republicans disagree with Pashinyan's program and new protests begin. The third scenario is daily quiet policy that will be implemented to fulfill the main theses voiced in the parliament today," he listed.

"It is understandable that the theses presented by Pashinyan are just. Few people can oppose the struggle against monopolies except the monopolists themselves, few people can oppose the rule of law, except for people trying to stand above the law. The entire political elite has always said that it is necessary to play by the same rules. But the situation is still controversial: Pashinyan is the future leader of the parliamentary minority, who will have to pursue a policy with the republican majority. That is, the "velvet revolution" does not end with his election, now there will be a redistribution of power resources. How this is done is a tactical choice of Pashinyan and his team," Alexander Markarov warned.

According to the expert, Pashinyan may resort to street protests even being prime minister. "Today they saw that Pashinyan's supporters are ready to mobilize quickly enough. If the Republicans resist Pashinyan, he will resort to protests, since he does not have a formal internal resource in the parliament," the director of the Armenian branch of the CIS Institute summarized.