After the political opposition in Armenia behind leader Nikol Pashinyan achieved a tremendous and surprising success with Serzh Sargsyan’s resignation on 23 April, the future of the country is far from certain. In a bid to succeed Sargsyan as prime minister, Pashinyan was rejected by a parliamentary poll on 01 May, in which Sargsyan’s Republican Party (HHK) almost unanimously voted against the opposition leader, the sole candidate. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters followed his subsequent calls for protests and roadblocks on Wednesday, including a blockage on the route to the international airport in Yerevan.

“The developments in Armenia may have further surprises in store, both negative and positive.”

The Armenian Constitution states that another parliamentary vote is to be held on 08 March. If that poll also remains inconclusive, snap parliamentary elections will take place within 45 days. However, this is not the most favourable scenario for the opposition: the long-ruling HHK could exert its influence on the executive branch and the electoral system and remain the largest faction in parliament. The opposition prefers a previous transition of power in order to implement reforms of the electoral law before parliamentary elections are held. But it is uncertain whether Pashinyan can garner sufficient support of the Republican Party for the second ballot; although one if its members voted for him in the recent poll, and Sargsyan’s departure as party head of the HHK could create disunion within the organisation, the concern that the HHK will stand united against the opposition candidate remains valid. And the time for negotiations prior to the next poll is running out; a failure to find a compromise could heighten tensions considerably.

So far, the opposition movement has been marked by its non-violent approach. Nonetheless, in the coming days and weeks, it will be seen whether the movement is able to maintain its momentum, and whether the police on their side will remain peaceful in reaction to the protest measures. In any case, mobility and business activities stand a risk of being heavily impeded, and violent escalations, which have only been seen rudimentarily in recent weeks, could become a more significant threat.


Photo credit: Serouj | License: Creative Commons

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