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Armenia's Pashinian, Tsarukian Agree To Force New Elections In December

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (right) and Gagik Tsarukian, leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (right) and Gagik Tsarukian, leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party.

One week after being driven out of Armenia’s governing coalition, Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian has committed himself to helping Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian force snap general elections in December.

In a joint memorandum signed after a meeting in Yerevan on October 8, the two men said they "concur regarding the conduct of preterm parliamentary elections" before the end of this year.

The document says that the BHK will therefore not nominate or endorse any other candidate for the post of prime minister after Pashinian's widely anticipated resignation.

The Armenian constitution stipulates that the 105-member National Assembly, in which the BHK holds 31 seats, can be dissolved only if lawmakers fail to elect another premier in case of that resignation. Pashinian has pledged to step down to ensure that fresh elections are held in December.

As recently as October 2, Tsarukian’s party helped former President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party (HHK) push through a bill that could complicate the success of Pashinian’s plans.

The premier reacted furiously to the development, accusing the BHK and another coalition partner, Dashnaktsutyun, of involvement in a "counterrevolutionary" conspiracy. He also scrapped his power-sharing agreements with the two parties reached in May.

BHK representatives said at the time that the fresh elections should be held in May or June, rather than in December. Like HHK leaders, they argued that political forces need time to amend the Electoral Code and properly prepare for the ballot.

But Tsarukian signaled a change of this position in a televised interview aired early on October 5. "If the people want the preterm parliamentary elections to be held in December, then so do we," he said.

Pashinian hailed that statement at the start of his meeting with Tsarukian on October 8. "It was obvious from the content of your interview that we have something to discuss," he said in remarks publicized by his office.

Tsarukian, who is also a wealthy businessman, stressed for his part that he and his party supported the Pashinian-led "revolution" that toppled Armenia's previous government headed by Sarkisian.

"Nobody expected that Serzh Sarkisian would resign," the tycoon told Pashinian. "I told the people then that I stand with you."

Sarkisian's HHK controls around half of the seats in parliament. The former ruling party remains opposed to holding the elections in December. But it has yet to clarify whether it will try to install another prime minister if Pashinian tenders his resignation for tactical reasons this month.