16 Lawmakers, Mainly from Republican Party of Armenia, Express Support for December Vote
YEREVAN—Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Tuesday appeared to have garnered enough votes to hold snap parliamentary elections in December, after 16 lawmakers predominantly from former president Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia pledged their support for a December vote.
A day after Pashinyan and Prosperous Party of Armenia chairman businessman Gagik Tsarukyan signed an agreement whereby Tsarukyan pledged that his parliamentary faction would support a December voter, 16 lawmakers essentially defected to the Pashinyan camp ensuring the prime minister the needed majority to move forward with his plans to hold snap parliamentary elections in December.
Among the 16 lawmakers to sign the petition were Alik Sargsyan, a former national police chief, Artak Sargsyan, the owner of the SAS supermarket chain and Samvel Aleksanyan, an influential businessman who counts the Yerevan City supermarket chain as part of his vast holdings. Some of the signatories of the petitions were members of the Republican Party of Armenia who abandoned the party after Pashinyan came to power in May.
The Republican Party of Armenia issued a statement Tuesday saying that it would not nominate its own candidate in the event of Pashinyan’s resignation, which is needed to begin the parliament’s dissolution process ahead of snap elections. The Republican Party of Armenia, however, in its statement reiterated its position that snap elections should be held in May or June, once again, reaffirming its rejection of the proposed December date.
Last week, the Republican Party of Armenia, which still held a majority in parliament, orchestrated a vote that thwarted Pashinyan’s plans when it called an emergency session of the legislature to vote on an amendment to the electoral code that would complicate the dissolution of the parliament—a prerequisite for holding snap elections.
The Tsarukian bloc was joined by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation voted in favor of the amendment prompting Pashinyan to fire the ministers and governors affiliated with the two factions before leading tens of thousands of protesters to parliament where he met with lawmakers who were locked in the parliament building. The ARF Supreme Council of Armenia recalled its two ministers and governors ahead of their public dismissal by Pashinyan.
ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Arsen Hambartsumyan and Spartak Seyranyan, an ARF parliamentary faction member who also serves on the party’s Bureau, met on Monday with Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan in what Hambartsumyan later described as a “productive discussion.”
“We had a productive discussion over a broad range of issues. I think future discussions will provide an opportunity to find the right solutions to overcome the current situation,” Hambartsumyan told reporters on Monday evening.
On Tuesday, Hambartsumyan told Azatutyun.am’s Armenian Service that signing an agreement with Pashinyan was not on the ARF’s agenda.
“We believe that mutual trust between political factions is far more important that any signed agreement,” Hambartsumyan told Azatutyun.am.
“If during future consultations a need for that [an agreement] arises then we will be willing to discuss that option; however, today, we do not have such an item on our agenda,” explained Hambartsumyan adding that the ARF, on numerous, occasions has underscored the importance of snap parliamentary elections.
Hambartsumyan told Azatutyun.am that the ARF has always viewed the issue of snap parliamentary elections as being tied to important steps and measure that are attained through political discussion and agreements emanating from them and are highlighted government program.
He added that the ARF’s concerns about a December election are rooted in the party’s belief that it would be unrealistic to take the imperative steps that precede snap elections in the timeframe.