Armenia: is there way out of this impasse?

Armenia: is there way out of this impasse?

The internal political situation in Armenia, despite the election of leader of the popular protest movement Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister, continues to be complex. Some dual authority has formed in the country, within which a parliament coexists, with the majority of deputies representing the former ruling party, and the minority representing the government.

Despite the assurance of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) representatives that they have no plans to sabotage the government's work, the danger of the impasse remains acute. Holding early parliamentary elections may become the solution to the problem, which will make it possible to avoid an internal political crisis, but the sides' positions on this issue are directly opposite.

On the one hand, the government and its political forces represented by former opposition parties, primarily the Civil Contract party headed by Nikol Pashinyan, are in favor of holding early elections. From the leading parliamentary forces, where the Prosperous Armenia party remains the main force, a similar position is occupied by the Tsarukyan bloc.

On the other hand, the representatives of the former ruling RPA, which has virtually no support in the society, for obvious reasons do not see the need for holding early elections and declare that they are going to prepare for the 2022 elections.

Reaching consensus between political forces, first of all, between the forces that dominate the parliament and the government, would be the best way out of the situation. But consensus is unlikely to be reached in the extreme situation.

It should be noted that it's about holding elections under the amended Electoral Code. It is planned to prepare changes to the Electoral Code already in late June, primarily aimed at abolishing the system of so-called preferential voting. Earlier, the RPA, using special technologies based on vote-buying, used preferential voting in its own interests.

The government commissioned the non-governmental organization 'Union of Informed Citizens' to develop a package of changes to the Electoral Code, as well as organize consultations between the parties on this issue. The head of the organization Daniel Ioannisyan said that consultations will be held within the next few days. According to him, if no agreement is reached with the RPA on introducing amendments to the Electoral Code, the government intends to use such options as the Ministry of Justice filing a claim to the Constitutional Court for a recognition of the preferential voting system as unconstitutional. If this does not work out, which is unlikely, there is an option of holding early elections through a referendum.

Taking all these options into account, early elections cannot be an absolute guarantee of resolving the impasse in the current situation. The thing is that holding early elections until May 9, 2019 is possible only in one case - if Prime Minister Pashinyan resigns. According to the law, the parliament has no right to express a vote of no confidence towards the prime minister within a year of his election. The resignation of the prime minister may be fraught with a full return of the Republican Party of Armenia to power, which holds the majority of seats in the parliament.

The prime minister says that the election can be held already before the end of this year. Perhaps, these statements are explained by Pashinyan's confidence that after his resignation the parliament will not be able to elect a new prime minister. But it may happen if the RPA faction is disunited. There is no disunion yet. The prime minister probably believes that the ranks of Republicans can be divided by anti-corruption revelations, the mechanism of which has already been launched. But before that, actualizing the internal political crisis would remain a threat.

Overcoming the crisis and the opportunity to get out of the impasse is a multi-layered pie, the top layer of which can be the split of the RPA, which is the primary focus of anti-corruption revelations.

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Vestnik Kavkaza

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