Under Armenia’s constitution, such elections must be called only if Pashinian resigns and the National Assembly twice fails to elect another prime minister. His My Step bloc controls at least 83 seats in the 132-member parliament and should in theory be able to easily prevent the election of another premier nominated by the opposition minority.
Nevertheless, Pashinian has pressed the two parliamentary opposition parties to guarantee that they will refrain from such nominations in the event of his tactical resignation.
He secured such assurances from the Bright Armenia (LHK) and Prosperous Armenia (BHK) parties before announcing on March 18 that the elections will be held in late June. The prime minister confirmed afterwards that he is planning to resign later this month. He will continue to perform his duties at least until election day.
Pashinian’s bloc called that election deal into question last week when the parliament controlled by it hastily approved major changes to Armenia’s electoral system over the LHK’s strong objections. LHK leader Edmon Marukian accused it of resorting to partisan gerrymandering which he said cast doubt on “the legitimacy of the elections.”
Ani Samsonian, a senior LHK member, made clear on Monday that despite its strong opposition to the enacted changes Marukian’s party will not nominate a prime minister if Pashinian does tender his resignation.
“The only agreement [with Pashinian] was to hold early elections within a short period of time, and we will not give the authorities any excuses to walk away from this understanding,” she told reporters.
Unlike the LHK, the BHK has not publicly objected to the controversial amendments to the Armenian Electoral Code. The party led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian is affiliated with an alliance of more hardline opposition forces trying to topple Pashinian over his handling of last year’s war with Azerbaijan.
The alliance called the Homeland Salvation Movement maintains that fresh elections must be held by an interim government. Still, some of its key members, including the BHK, have said that they will not boycott the vote planned by the current government.