Armenian parliament rejects pro-Western opposition leader’s bid to be prime minister
2 May 2018
After mass protests that forced Armenia’s prime minister Serzh Sargsyan to resign last Monday, the leader of the liberal opposition bloc, Nikol Pashinyan, failed to secure a majority vote in the parliament in his bid to be elected prime minister on May 1.
While the mass protests that led to the Sargsyan’s resignation were motivated not least of all by social grievances in a country where almost every fifth person is unemployed and every third lives beneath the official poverty line, the liberal opposition has been quick to assert political control over the movement to advance its own agenda.
The vote took place under extraordinarily tense conditions with media reports indicating that the entire country came to a stand-still as the parliament was heatedly debating Pashinyan’s candidacy. Thousands watched the nine-hour parliamentary debate live from the Republican Square in the country’s capital Yerevan.
In a call last week with the former acting prime minister Karen Karapetyan, who replaced Sargsyan as acting prime minister last Monday, Russian president Vladimir Putin stated that his government was insisting on a “peaceful transition” in keeping with the results of the 2017 parliamentary elections. This implied the Kremlin’s ongoing support for the ruling Republican Party, which secured an overwhelming majority of votes in the last parliamentary elections. The opposition bloc Pashinyan represents won, by contrast, only some 8 percent of the votes.
Over the past week, Pashinyan called for numerous demonstrations to pressure the government into accepting him as prime minister, drawing the support of tens of thousands of people. He warned the…