Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Wednesday that the holding of parliamentary elections in Armenia widely recognized as democratic has been the most important achievement of his 14-month rule.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Pashinian also dismissed critics’ claims that many of the young government officials appointed by him have proved incompetent.
“In my view, my biggest achievement is democracy and Armenia’s democratic image and the fact that in the contemporary world Armenia is unequivocally considered a democratic country,” he said. “[December] 2018 saw democratic elections the results of which were not disputed neither de jure nor publicly for the first time ever. This is a unique event in the history of the Third Republic and I regard it as the biggest success.”
Pashinian also pointed to recent local elections which were won not only by his My Step alliance but also opposition forces. And he reiterated that his government has successfully tackled corruption, strengthened the broader rule of law and broken up economic monopolies since taking office in the wake of the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” led by him.
According to a U.S.-funded opinion poll conducted in May, My Step would win 59 percent of the vote if another general election was held now. The bloc got 70 percent in the December ballot.
Pashinian insisted that the voter survey does not necessarily mean a more than 10 percentage point drop in his and his bloc’s popularity.He argued that pre-election polls commissioned by the government also showed 60 percent support for My Step.
According to the poll released by the Washington-based International Republican Institute last week, when asked about the Pashinian government’s biggest achievements, the largest proportion of respondents (27 percent) pointed to a decrease in corruption. “Bad management” was the most frequent answer (22 percent) to a question about the government’s biggest failures.
“Is there bad management in Armenia? Of course there is,” said Pashinian.
But he insisted that new people brought by him to the government are not primarily responsible for it. The vast majority of government officials and civil servants had joined the state apparatus before the 2018 revolution, he argued, adding that many of them are “accustomed to working through corruption.”
“And now that you are trying to work according to the law, it turns out that the law was meant for showing off, rather than working,” said Pashinian. He said his political team has “enough skills to govern the country.”