Armenia to hold snap polls in December
YEREVAN — Armenia will hold early parliamentary elections on December 9 after reformist leader Nikol Pashinyan’s political manoeuvring led lawmakers on Thursday to dissolve the assembly.
The dissolution of parliament is a major win for acting Prime Minister Pashinyan whose efforts to reform the country of three million have been frustrated for months by the ruling party.
Pashinyan, who came to power in May after a popular revolt against the country’s old guard, said the chamber was dissolved “in accordance with law” after MPs failed to elect a new prime minister for the second time over the past week.
“Today parliament is being disbanded for the first time and for the first time we will have early elections,” Pashinyan said ahead of Thursday’s vote.
“We will ensure absolutely fair and legitimate elections and the rest is in people’s hands.”
An agreement was reached with figurehead President Armen Sarkisian to hold the election on December 9, Pashinyan said.
That date was officially set by presidential decree later on Thursday.
The 43-year-old former journalist rose to power in May after spearheading weeks of peaceful anti-government rallies that ousted veteran leader Serzh Sarkisian.
Analysts said the victory of the popular politician’s party in the December ballot was almost assured as Pashinyan pushes ahead with his campaign to reshape the South Causasus nation’s political landscape.
“The snap polls’ outcome is pretty predictable - in December Pashinyan will be in control of parliament,” analyst Vigen Hakobyan said.
Since taking office, the hero of the street protests has won applause for launching an all-out crusade against endemic corruption and driving many members of the old elite from power.
But the new government quickly found itself at logger- heads with ex-president Sarkisian’s Republican Party which had a majority in parliament and stood in the way of Pashinyan’s reform drive.
New parliamentary elections were not scheduled until 2022 and last month Pashinyan stepped down as prime minister to pave the way for snap polls.
He twice put forward his candidacy for re-election after agreeing with all the parliamentary factions that they would vote him down to trigger early polls.
During his first five months in office he pursued a balanced foreign policy. He reassured Russian President Vladimir Putin that Armenia would remain Moscow’s ally but at the same time he sought to charm Western leaders.
During an international summit in the capital Yerevan in October he danced traditional Armenian dances with French President Emmanuel Macron and wore matching socks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. — AFP