Former health minister Ara Babloyan has been installed as speaker of Armenia’s newly elected parliament after receiving 88 “for” votes in a ballot of 100 lawmakers on Thursday.
Twelve members of Armenia’s National Assembly voted against Babloyan, who was nominated by the majority Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), and in favor of the second candidate, Edmon Marukian, nominated by the opposition Yelk (Way Out) faction.
Babloyan served as Armenia’s health minister in 1991-1997 before returning to his professional medical career until 2007 when he was elected to parliament on the list of the HHK and then was returned to the legislative body five years later. He occupied the fourth position on the HHK slate during last month’s elections and was named for the position by President Serzh Sarkisian, who is the leader of the HHK.
Before the vote Babloyan said that if elected, he would strengthen cooperation between the government and opposition factions. “For me, as for an Armenian, there are three key components of strengthening the State – security, health and education. We ought to ensure the internal and external security of our country, ensure state authority, enhance our borders, strengthen our army and statehood,” he said.
By contrast, Marukian suggested that an opposition figure could also be the speaker of parliament. In his words, it would help the cause by “introducing some balance.”
Under Armenia’s constitution, the opposition is entitled to have the position of one of three deputy speakers. The second largest parliamentary faction formed by the alliance of tycoon Gagik Tsarukian that has declared itself an opposition has nominated Mikael Melkumian for this post.
The other two deputy speakers are likely to be former justice minister Arpine Hovannisian and former deputy speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, both of whom have been nominated by the HHK.
The HHK has 58 mandates in the 105-seat National Assembly and together with its coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashanktsutyun) that has 7 lawmakers, enjoys a constitutional majority. The Tsarukian alliance and Yelk have 31 and 9 seats, respectively.