Pashinyan and Parliament At Odds Over Early Snap Elections as ARF Loses Ministerial Footing

Thousands Mobilize in Protest of Controversial Bill

As of Tuesday, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) no longer has representation in the Pashinyan-led Armenian Government after two of its high-profile ministers relieved themselves of their duties during a political crisis that caused large-scale uproar in Yerevan.

This development comes after PM Nikol Pashinyan, who in the wake of a landslide victory in the Yerevan Municipal elections, announced his decision to move snap parliamentary elections to earlier in the year (from spring 2019 to December 2018). The announcement spurred a controversial response from parliamentarians in the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), the Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP), and the ARF, who hastily pushed a bill that would delay and block such measures (the bill, received 65 votes in total). Currently, the 105 seats of parliament consist of 58 Republicans (who still maintain their pre-Velvet Revolution majority), 31 PAP members, nine Yelk (“Way Out”) bloc members, and seven ARF members.

Pashinyan condemned the bill—introduced jointly by the ARF, PAP, and RPA parliamentarians—as “counterrevolutionary” and called his followers into the streets. On Tuesday night, 100,000 people almost instantly mobilized and flooded the streets in support.

PM Pashinyan, addressing the thousands demonstrating, stated that the passage of this bill is a conspiracy against the supreme authority: the Armenian people. He also threatened to resign, telling the masses, “No one should think I cling to the Prime Minister’s seat.” For reference, if he were to resign, Parliament has two opportunities to choose a new prime minister within two weeks or the entire Parliamentary would be dissolved.

As of Wednesday, President Armen Sarkissian had not signed the controversial law that forced an eruption of protests in Yerevan.

Shortly after the mass demonstrations by citizens, the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia issued a statement dismissing Economy Minister Artsik Minasian and Agriculture Minister Artur Khachatrian, as well as the governors of two provinces. The council stressed that it supported extraordinary elections, just not immediate ones, arguing that elections should be pursued through negotiation, not by “violating the Constitution” according to an official statement.

“There has never been an attempt by us to prevent early elections. It’s not good to confuse the public with such statements,” Armen Rustamyan, head of the ARF faction in the NA, told reporters on Wednesday. “[We need] to decide how much time should be given, so that the public and political forces appropriately adapt to the new situation and participation conditions will be understood by all.”

Following the ARF’s dismissal of its ministers, Pashinyan called for the resignations of six ministers from his cabinet, which included the two ARF ministers that had already stepped down and four ministers from the PAP including Energy Minister Artur Grigorian, Transport Minister Ashot Akopian, Emergency Minister Grachya Rostomian and Sports Minister Levon Vagradian (whose names were promptly removed from the government’s website).

“There is a direct democracy in Armenia,” exclaimed Pashinyan during Tuesday’s parliament session.

Proponents of the bill argue that delaying elections was important in providing sufficient time to inform and educate voters on party positions before voting would take place. Critics of the bill, however, argue that the ARF is not new to the Armenian political arena and has had the time to establish its position with constituents. Many have pointed to Pashinyan’s landslide victory in the municipal elections as sufficient justification for hastening the snap elections.

While encouraged by the results of the municipal elections, others say there’s still room for skepticism. While Pashinyan’s party won by 81 percent, it has been noted that voter turnout was only 45 percent (for reference, voter turnout in the United States was about 56-percent during the 2016 presidential elections; though nearby Georgia’s last November 2017 municipal elections yielded a voter turnout of 33-percent). Yuliya Lovochkina of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) political process is still low. Therefore it is essential that the “next parliamentary elections are perceived and accepted as democratic and fair by all political competitors.”

Despite recent events, Pashinyan—who recently met with leaders of the ARF in the United States in New York City during his visit to speak at the U.N. General Assembly—expressed an open-mindedness regarding the multifaceted and global nature of the ARF. In a parliamentary news conference, he stated that the party is “multi-layered” and “cannot be judged on all strata by actions of one layer.”



  1. ARF-Armenia is out out of touch with the wishes of the Armenian citizens and the ARF members outside of Armenia. Shame on them for siding with corrupt oligarchs of Serge’s party. Armenians will not forget the way ARF voted on October 2-nd.

    • “ARF-Armenia is out out of touch with the wishes of the Armenian citizens and the ARF members outside of Armenia.”
      If you are a young person, you are uneducated. but if you are an older person, then you are a corrupt person for you and your kinds have elected the present majority parties IN THE PARLIAMENT, except “ARF”, by selling your Vote and receiving money which is the cause of all` this troubles in the short history of ARMENIA since end of Communism: I think you are blind followers when it comes to elect leaders!

    • ARF always has been out of touch starting late 1800!! Look at them politically, one massive mistake after another.

  2. What the Tashnag party built in diaspora in100 years the leaders in yerevan distroyed in couple hours they are idiots these are as currept as the old regime don’t fool the public saying the ministers resigned they were dismissed few hours before.they werecollaborating with republicans to topple the revolution.shame on them!

  3. You note that the bill passed on October 2 was meant to “block such measures” in reference to the PM’s wish to bring snap elections early to December of 2018. This is totally incorrect, and I’m surprised the Weekly is not getting its facts straight. The bill was meant to counter Pashinyan’s threat to ask its supporters to physically block parliamentarians from voting on any bill which did not allow elections in December. The ARF’s premise in support of the bill was to protect Armenia’s state institutions and constitutional order from such moves; one is justified to wonder why the ARF has now become so vocal when in the past 20 years it had remained so terrifyingly passive (at least in public), but that does not justify the PM’s divisive drive to paint anyone who disagrees with him as a “counter-revolutionary” and to threaten to bring people on the streets in a “my way or highway” attitude which smells of the same political arrogance that Serge Sarkissian and his thugs expressed in the recent past.

  4. Pashinyan is acting more like a “community organizer” than a true leader, who was given a mandate to govern for the betterment of the long suffering people of Armenia. Bringing out the mob in the streets is not going to solve the country’s problem or create a stable government.What is the rush to have a new election? What has he accomplished,except couple of meetings with Putin and creating headlines by bringing up 10 year old charges against Kocharian and couple of military people? His actions have resulted in chaos which shows his lack of ability to govern!He should resign!

  5. Is this Little dictator trying to celebrate October Revolution and reminding people the communism is the alternative?

  6. If U are true Dashnakner then stop interfering & start participating with Armenia’s future. Help MP not act against him & the RA

  7. Dashnak took direct part in destroying Armenia for the past 20 years by forming a direct coalition with the ruling clan. This political party are the greatest traitors Armenia has seen throughout history and their deceitful approaches are culminating now. By their latest actions dashnaks are proving their disconnect from the Armenian nation and the people’s will. Those of you who have been brainwashed into honking Nikol is forming a dictatorship are, likewise, very far out of touch with reality. Suggest you open your eyes very wide and stand firm with free and fair Armenia, its people and the new path to a much brighter and stronger future.

  8. The real problem is that after bringing his popular movement to its conclusion, removing the Armenian president Serj Sargsyan from power, and becoming people’s Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan failed to dissolve the parliament right away. He forced the president out but left his power structure intact. Therefore, I think this movement was not a revolution (հեղափոխություն) in the true sense of the word but rather it was a regime change (իշխանափոխություն) instead. In a TRUE revolution not only the existing ruler (նախագահ) of the state is toppled but that also its supporting structure is dismantled and a complete change in the fundamental institutions of the society is established. This did not happen. I think for this reason we are now faced with such problems.

  9. Mr Pashinyan has impresses us all so far…
    Mr Pashinyan has not commented about the death of Arayik Khandoyan who was a political prisoner in Armenia and had been assaulted and tortured by AT LEAST 10 prison Guards only recently before his release.
    Why is Mr Pashiyan silent about Arayik Khandoyan’ death.
    Arayik Khandoyan died of injuries sustained while he was in prison in Armenia.
    I urge President Armen Sarkissian and Mr Pashiyan to investigate the torture allegations by Arayik Khandoyan and arrest all the prison guards who participated in the assault/torture of
    Arayik Khandoyan.
    If this matter is not investigated, then, it only proves that President Armen Sarkissian and Mr Pashiyan are the same as other leaders who snubbed Armenian people.
    Arayik Khandoyan was a NATIONAL HERO!

  10. “…in a parliamentary news conference, he (Pashinyan)stated that the party ( ARF) is “multi-layered” and “cannot be judged on all strata by actions of one layer.”

    That may be so but party thinking is party thinking and it really may not matter who “that layer” of leadership is.
    The 6 odd seats in parliament and a 1.8% of the vote recently is a reflection on party DNA, not individual players. ARF musical chairs platform is true
    embarassment,a thinking steeped in yesteryear with no contemporary awareness.
    ARF founders have rolled over in their graves.

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