Members of the Armenian parliament elected three deputy speakers during their second day of work in the new legislature on Friday.
Former justice minister Arpine Hovannisian and former deputy speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, both of whom have been nominated by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), received 84 and 73 “for” votes, respectively, during a ballot in which 100 lawmakers participated.
Under Armenia’s constitution, the opposition is entitled to fill 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. Melkumian got 65 “for” votes during the ballot.
On Thursday, HHK representative Ara Babloyan was elected parliament speaker.
The Armenian National Assembly is also due to elect heads of standing committees, with the HHK entitled to nominate heads for most of them. At the ruling party’s suggestion, the parliament is considering reducing the number of standing committees from 12 to 9.
The HHK has 58 mandates in the 105-seat National Assembly and together with its junior coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashanktsutyun) that has 7 lawmakers, it enjoys a constitutional majority. The opposition Tsarukian and Yelk alliances have 31 and 9 seats, respectively.
In a 2015 referendum Armenia adopted a new constitution turning it into a parliamentary republic. The country’s transition to the parliamentary form of government will be completed in April 2018 when incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian, the leader of the current majority party, completes his second and final term in office.
Armenia’s next president will be elected by the National Assembly and will have largely ceremonial powers, while genuine power will be concentrated in the hands of the prime minister whose appointment will reflect the alignment of forces in the legislature.