With a Magic Wand: Nikol Pashinyan’s Government Program Approved by Parliament
On June 7, the Armenian parliament approved Nikol Pashinyan's government program with 62 in favor, 39 against, and 0 abstained votes.
On June 6, exactly one day before the government program was submitted to the Parliament approval, the Republican faction lost its absolute majority in Parliament, after Samvel Aleksanyan, a business tycoon, announced his withdrawal from the faction. This reduced the number of deputies of the Republican faction to 52 against 53. Prior to Aleksanyan, five other Republican deputies had left the faction.
101 out of 105 deputies were present at the vote. Nikol Pashinyan's YELK alliance, as well as the Tsarukyan Bloc and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutyun faction, which are a part of the government, voted for the program. Six deputies that had left the Republican faction a few days ago also voted for. Numbers show that the program has also received three votes from the Republican faction.
The government program is only 30 pages, unlike the previous government’s 130-page document.
"Previously, the numbers in the government's program never came true. We are not going to throw numbers in the air in the country, we are going to make serious contextual changes," said Nikol Pashinyan in response to criticisms that the program did not have specific quantitative targets.
Today, Nikol Pashinyan also referred to the magic wand.
Answering one of the MPs, he said "There is a magic wand and that magic wand has already started working."
Pashinyan underlined that his government has initiated radical reforms in all spheres.
A special section of the program is devoted to organizing snap parliamentary elections within maximum one year. It is mentioned that the current Parliament does not reflect the political moods, preferences of the people of Armenia and the real ratio of powers.
During the break, asked by reporters how he was going to hold snap elections, Pashinyan said:
‘“We’ll talk about it after the Program is approved.” According to the Armenian Constitution, snap parliamentary elections can only happen if the prime minister resigns, and the parliament consequently fails to elect the new prime minister in two ballots.
The debate about the program covered the fight against corruption, equality of all before the law, the elimination of monopolies and the establishment of free economic competition, as well as the deepening of ties with the Diaspora.
There was also a discussion about the Mandatory Funded Pension System which is to be launched in Armenia. It was postponed in 2014 as a result of public discontent, as it implies up to 5% deduction from the salaries of employees. Today similar statements are being sounded.
Nikol Pashinyan announced that the introduction of the system should not be postponed. He acknowledged that in the near future the issue will be one of the most serious challenges for the government to decide.
On June 8, the government will convene its first session after adoption of the program.
In a special session on June 19, Armenia’s National Assembly voted to strip Member of Parliament General Manvel Grigoryan of his parliamentary immunity.
Grigoryan, who is part of the National Assembly’s Republican Party Faction, was detained on June 16 following an operation by the National Security Service of Armenia (NSS), which discovered that Grigoryan has been involved in mass-scale corruption.
Of the 105 members of parliament, 77 voted in favor, three against, two ballots were declared invalid, and 23 members were not present at the vote, including Grigoryan himself.
The National Security Service of Armenia (NSS) published a video on June 17 showing its search operations at the compounds of member of Armenia’s National Assembly, general Manvel Grigoryan. Grigoryan is a member of the Republican faction at Parliament, which until recently held parliamentary majority.
The video, which quickly went viral, shows large quantities of illegal ammunition, dozens of boxes of food with labels “For Soldiers”, military underwear, hygiene supplies, as well as letters from students addressed to frontline soldiers of the 2016 April War were found in Grigoryan’s mansions and warehouses.
Summing up his Russia visit in a Facebook video, Prime Minister Pashinyan pointed out that Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced him to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev during the sporting event. "The Russian president introduced us to each other, and that's also information that I think you should know. No other talk or discussion occurred. In general, I am very satisfied with the results of the visit,” said Pashinyan.