After the turn of the millennium, the
nationalist and right-wing Republican Party (HKK)
established itself as a state-bearing party with great
influence. Several waves of protest against the party's
authoritarian policies strengthened opposition leader
Nikol Pashinyan, not least since he launched a campaign
against corruption. Pashinyan succeeded in pushing a new
election to also get his supporters as the majority in
parliament, and since 2018 he has popular support as
head of government.
The Republican Party can be said to have fallen on
its own grip. The popular dissatisfaction with its
government policy was great, but the party started a
carousel on the leading positions, intended to let its
strong man retain power. The plan failed. Instead, it
led to a "velvet revolution" and a shift in power.
Country facts and history of Armenia, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
The dissatisfaction had been simmering for several
years. Already the 2012 parliamentary elections took
place in a tense political situation and were preceded
by demonstrations against alleged corruption and abuse
of power by the Republican Party. The election result
gave a strong dominance for two parties. The Republican
Party gained its own majority. In second place came
Liberal Conservative A successful Armenia.
In the 2013 presidential election, none of the major
opposition parties even bothered to challenge incumbent
President Serzh Sargsyan, who was declared victor in the
first round with over 58 percent of the vote. Overall,
OSCE observers approved the election, but the election's
second Raffi Hovhannisyan, who received 36 percent of
the votes, accused the Election Commission of cheating.
In early 2014, widespread popular protests erupted
against a new law that said people born after 1974 from
2015 onwards would deposit five percent of their income
into private pension funds. The law was perceived by
government critics as a way for the authorities to
access their money. In April, the Constitutional Court
announced that pension reform must be changed and
shortly thereafter Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan
resigned, who received harsh criticism for the reform.
Hovik Abrahamyan, Deputy Chairman of the Republican
Party, was appointed new head of government.
In the fall of 2014, new protests erupted and more
than 10,000 opposition supporters demonstrated against
the government for its inability to curb poverty and
corruption. Concerns continued in 2015 when
demonstrations were organized against a planned increase
in electricity prices.
More power to Parliament
In December 2015, a referendum was held in which 63
percent of the voters said yes to the constitution being
amended so that a large part of the president's power is
transferred to Parliament (see Political system). More
than half of the voters participated in the vote. The
opposition argued that the amendment intended that
President Serzh Sargsyan be able to retain power after
his term of office by taking over the post of Prime
Minister 2018. Accusations of electoral fraud were
supported by observers from the Council of Europe.
Following a hostage raid on a police station that
claimed two lives in the summer of 2016, President Serzh
Sargsyan promised to form a unifying government, and in
September, Yerevan's former mayor Karen Karapetyan was
appointed new head of government. Karapetyan had a past
job as a senior manager at the Russian gas company
Gazprom and was considered to have good relations with
the Russian government.
On April 2, 2017, the first parliamentary elections
were held with the new electoral rules. The Republican
Party won by more than 49 percent of the vote. A valiant
alliance dominated by A successful Armenia gained just
over 27 percent. The Valallians Way Out - where
Pashinian's party was included - and Dasjnak managed the
five percent block with each around seven percent of the
vote. The OSCE observers announced that citizens' basic
freedoms were respected but that reports of voting,
pressure on officials and voters were intimidated into
voting on certain parties.
The Carapetyan remained as prime minister after the
election and soon took Dashnak into the government,
giving the government the three-fifths majority needed
to make certain important decisions. In March 2018,
Armen Sargsyan, who was prime minister for a short
period in the 1990s and also served as London's
ambassador, was elected president.
In early April, the Republican Party announced that
it expected Serzh Sargsyan to be nominated for the post
of Prime Minister. It sparked the spark of widespread
protests and Serzh Sargsyan was pressured to resign.
Acting Prime Minister was Karen Karapetyan, but he too
soon got the hang of it when the popular protests did
not want to deceive. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan
traveled around the country and kingdom to get support
against the ruling party. In a first vote in Parliament
when he was nominated as prime ministerial candidate,
Pashinyan was not supported by enough members. A week
later, he was elected acting prime minister after the
Republican Party found it too good not to block him. But
the fox game was not over, as the Republicans dominated
the parliament. In order to make a difference, he must
achieve changed conditions of strength in Parliament.
Pashinyan had several parties behind him and eventually
succeeded in pushing a new election.
The re-election was held at the end of 2018 and
became a devastating victory for the reform camp.
Pashinian's Alliance Middle Step took home 70 percent of
the vote, and even the other two parties that managed
the five percent barrier - A Successful Armenia and
Brilliant Armenia - are described as Pashinian-friendly.
For the old Republican Power Party, the election was a
disaster: it failed to pass any of the barriers (5
percent for parties, 7 percent for alliances).
After the 2018 elections, Parliament has 132 members,
according to Armenian sites. The number may vary
depending on the electoral system, which gives an extra
mandate to opposition parties that can pass the five
percent barrier if the largest party / alliance receives
more than 70 percent of the vote. According to the
electoral law, the opposition must have at least one
third of the mandate. The turnout was 61 percent in
2017. In the new election it was only 49 percent.
For Pashinyan, it has been "up to proof" since the
election victory. His political program has been rather
unclear, but in the summer of 2018, a number of
anti-corruption measures let him talk. Both individuals
and companies with links to the Republican Party have
been subject to scrutiny. A celebrated war hero from the
battles over Nagorno-Karabakh, retired army general
Manvel Grigoryan, has been seen being demolished from
the pedestal and ejected from the party, since the
judicial system formalized mosquito charges against him.
Detronizing the old guard is also considered to be
associated with risks. Pashinyan's closest confidant,
Artur Vanetsyan, head of the national security service,
has claimed that there have been intelligence reports on
attack plans against the country's new leadership. But
in the fall of 2019, it was no less than Vanetsyan who
resigned, the hitherto most notable departure for
Pashinyan, since he had been commissioned to investigate
oligarchs and other power players. It has remained
unclear what the contradictions are about, but Vanetsyan
has since formed a new party and opposed Pashinyan.
Nagorno-Karabach remains in focus
The conflict with Azerbaijan over the
Armenian-populated enclave Nagorno-Karabakh has
continued to dominate Armenian politics. Despite
repeated international mediation attempts, the situation
appears to be largely locked and the armed clashes at
the Armenian-Azerbaijani border continue (see Foreign
Policy and Defense).
Follow the ongoing development of the Calendar.
READING TIPS - read more about
Armenia in the UI's online magazine Foreign
magazine: Compromise in view after nerve
war in Armenia (05/05/2018)
FACTS - POLITICS
Hayastani Hanrapetutyun / Republic of Armenia
republic, unitary state
Head of State
President Armen Sargsyan (2018–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (2018–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
Mid Step 88, A Successful Armenia 26, The Brilliant
Armenia 18 (2018)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
Republican Party 58, Tsarukyan Alliance (A Successful
Armenia et al) 31, Way Out 9, Dashnak 7 (2017)
49% in the 2018 parliamentary elections
parliamentary elections 2023, presidential elections