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Government, Opposition Claim Each Other’s Reluctance To Have Snap Elections


Deputy Parliament Speaker Alen Simonian

A senior pro-government lawmaker and an opposition faction leader have blamed each other for reluctance to have snap elections despite their public statements about the need to resolve the political crisis brought on by Armenia’s defeat in last year’s war against Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Deputy Parliament Speaker Alen Simonian, who represents the majority My Step alliance, told media on Wednesday that he did not consider that Bright Armenia, one of two opposition factions in the Armenian parliament, is genuinely in favor of holding early elections.

During a news briefing at the National Assembly, Simonian said that Bright Armenia would find many reasons to avoid snap elections.

Bright Armenia party leader Edmon Marukian
Bright Armenia party leader Edmon Marukian

Earlier, after talks with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and President Armen Sarkissian last week, Bright Armenia leader Edmon Marukian said that his faction will not field its own candidate if the prime minister resigns and snap elections are held before June 1, which procedurally means that the premier’s resignation should take place within the next two weeks or so.

Under Armenia’s constitution, the parliament can be dissolved and fresh elections can be appointed only if the prime minister resigns and lawmakers twice fail to elect a new head of government within two weeks.

While Pashinian enjoys a comfortable majority in parliament and practically does not need any assurances on the part of the opposition to resign and pave the way for early general elections, he and his political team believe that having a memorandum of understanding signed with Bright Armenia and the other opposition faction, Prosperous Armenia, that they will not field their candidates to replace Pashinian will exclude any risks of upheavals in the country.

Prosperous Armenia, whose leader Gagik Tsarukian is expected to hold a meeting with Pashinian soon to discuss possible snap elections, is also believed to want the fresh ballot to be held in May or June.

But the opposition Homeland Salvation Movement, a coalition of over a dozen political parties and groups, including Prosperous Armenia, that currently conducts street protests demanding Pashinian’s resignation, insists that Pashinian must step down and an interim government led by its leader Vazgen Manukian be formed before snap parliamentary elections can be held in at least a year’s time.

Manukian claims that it is unacceptable that Pashinian stay as acting prime minister to oversee the elections as he will seek to use the administrative resource to sway the outcome of the vote. This claim is vehemently rejected by the government.

Implying Bright Armenia’s insistence that snap elections be held before June, My Step’s Simonian claimed that the opposition party is trying to scuttle the process, using it as a means to make itself look more prominent. “I think so, because I know their manner of action well. I know that they first propose an option and then try to avoid agreements. This is their style,” the pro-government lawmaker said.

According to Simonian, the reason for which Bright Armenia and other opposition politicians are not interested in having snap elections is that “most of them know they will not succeed [in getting reelected].”

Meanwhile, Marukian rejected Simonian’s assertions, in his turn accusing the government of trying to avoid holding snap elections.

“The agenda of snap elections has become the top agenda in Armenia today due to us, due to our concessions. We and Prosperous Armenia have stated that if elections are to be held within a short time and if there is a process to dissolve the parliament, then we will not nominate our candidates [when the prime minister resigns]. But this government does not want it, since now they want us to vote in favor of a new electoral code,” Marukian said.

Still, the opposition leader stressed that he felt the government’s genuine will to have snap elections when he met with Pashinian last week. “That’s why I don’t want to call it into doubt based on the statement of one member of the ruling party,” Marukian concluded.

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