The 35 lawmakers representing the opposition Hayastan and Pativ Unem alliances began the boycott in April in advance of their daily demonstrations demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation.
Under Armenian law, a lawmaker can lose their seat if they skip, for “non-legitimate” reasons, at least half of parliament votes during a single semi-annual session of the National Assembly. The final decision to that effect is to be made by the Constitutional Court at the initiative of the parliament’s leadership or at least one-fifth of the deputies.
Parliament speaker Alen Simonian said on May 17 that he is considering initiating such an appeal to the court. Several other pro-government parliamentarians voiced support for the idea in the following weeks.
One of them, Hovik Aghazarian, said on Wednesday that members of the ruling party’s parliamentary group discussed the possible expulsion of their opposition colleagues but did not reach a consensus at a meeting held on Monday.
“I personally agree with [Simonian’s] view because that [opposition boycott] can be considered a violation of the law,” Aghazarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
According to the parliament’s press office, 14 opposition lawmakers, including parliament vice-speaker Ishkhan Saghatelian, can now be formally accused of absenteeism.
Speaking to reporters late on Tuesday, Saghatelian again scoffed at the threats to strip him and other oppositionists of their mandates.
“We got our mandates from the people, and the people are now demanding that we remove them from power as soon possible,” he said after announcing the opposition’s decision to end the daily demonstrations in Yerevan and to rally supporters on a weekly basis instead.
Saghatelian also made clear that the two opposition blocs will not end their boycott of the parliament for now.
Deputies representing them interrupted the boycott on June 3 to try to push through the National Assembly a resolution rejecting any peace accord that would restore Azerbaijan’s control over Nagorno-Karabakh. The parliamentary majority blocked the resolution by boycotting an emergency debate on it.
Opposition boycotts of parliament sessions have not been uncommon in Armenia in the past. No opposition lawmaker has been stripped of their seat because of that.