YEREVAN (A.W.)—Earlier today, Armenia’s National Assembly failed to elect Nikol Pashinyan as the country’s prime minister (PM).
In the vote taken today at the National Assembly’s special session, 45 votes were cast in favor of Pashinyan, while 55 votes were cast against. The vote was preceded by a Q&A, followed by a long series of emotional speeches from about 19 members of parliament.
Despite having announced over the weekend that they would not “block the vote” for the people’s candidate (i.e. Pashinyan), all but one of the members of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA)—who did not nominate a candidate—voted against Pashinyan. The only Republican MP to defect was Felix Tsolakyan.
Absent from the voting were three MPs: one from the Republican party, Grigor Avalyan, who submitted his resignation from the NA today; and two members of the Prosperous Armenia Party, Ishkhan Zakaryan and Melik Manukyan.
Two members of parliament who were present, but did not vote included the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (ARF) Aghvan Vardanyan, whose refusal to support Pashinyan shocked his on party and he was subsequently asked to step down; and the RPA’s Rustam Makhmudyan.
After leaving the parliament building, Pashinyan proceeded to Republic Square, where he gave an impassioned speech, calling for students and workers to begin a “total strike” beginning tomorrow at 8 a.m. He also reiterated the peaceful nature of the protests.
According to the constitution, if a PM is not elected, a new election should be held seven days after the vote. If a PM again is not elected by majority vote, the National Assembly will be dissolved. Pashinyan was nominated as a PM candidate by his party, Yelk (“Way Out”) on May 1, and was the sole nominee in the vote held during a special session of parliament.
Editor’s Note 05/02/18: This article was initially published as a Breaking news bulletin, we have updated it with more information as it became available.