YEREVAN -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's efforts to force early elections cleared another legal hurdle when the country's parliament agreed not to reappoint him as prime minister a week after his tactical resignation.
Pashinian on October 24 said the elections will complete the victory of last spring’s "velvet revolution" that brought him to power.
The popular prime minister and his allies are tipped to win the snap elections -- most likely to be held in December -- by a landslide.
Pashinian stepped down on October 16 to pave the way for the dissolution of the current National Assembly, in which he controls only a handful of seats.
Under the Armenian constitution, snap elections can be called only if the prime minister resigns and the parliament fails to replace him or her within two weeks.
New elections then must be held no earlier than in 30 days and no later than in 45 days -- approximately in the first half of December.
Some legal experts have said that the constitution also requires lawmakers to vote on at least one candidate for prime minister during the two-week period.
In what was a mere formality designed to prevent any questioning of the legality of the parliament's dissolution, Pashinian's Yelk alliance nominated him for the post of prime minister on October 23 on the assumption that the parliament would vote against his candidacy.
"This is done so that we fully adhere to procedures set by Armenia's constitution to avoid differing interpretations of legal definitions and meaningless legal debates," Yelk’s Lena Nazarian told the parliament.
"I was nominated not for getting elected prime minister but for not getting elected prime minister," Pashinian said. "Therefore, the National Assembly must not vote for me."
Only 12 deputies took part in the vote and none voted for Pashinian against his wishes. Eleven of them abstained. Pashinian is continuing to perform his prime ministerial duties in the meantime.
The 105-member parliament's largest factions representing the former ruling Republican Party (BHK) and Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia (BHK) had already said they would boycott the vote.
The seven deputies representing the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) also did not vote.
The parliament will again vote on the prime minister post next week. Another failure to elect a premier would mean its automatic dissolution.
The HHK as well as the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun have only reluctantly agreed to holding elections in December.
Early this month, they tried unsuccessfully to delay the vote until next May or June.