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.
Armenian revolutionary leader Nikol Pashinyan has resigned as prime minister. While his goal is to eradicate the remnants of the old ruling elite in snap elections, many wonder if the former regime has what it takes to strike back.
On 16 October, at 20:00, Armenians were once again glued to the screens of their TVs, laptops, and phones, just like in April, as news of Serzh Sargsyan’s resignation broke. This time, they were watching their protest-leader-turned-prime-minister Nikol Pashinyan announce his own resignation.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held talks with Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani, on September 26, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York (Premierminister.am, September 26). The meeting, initiated by the Iranian side, was immediately heralded as signifying a new era of amicable relations and strategic interaction (Panorama.am, September 27). Reportedly, the leaders touched upon a wide spectrum of issues, including trade and economy, transport logistics construction, as well as regional security challenges. President Rouhani noted that “the countries boast a high level of mutual trust” (Mehrnews.ir, September 26).
The same year, this was all before the revolution had taken place in Armenia, I was speaking to a journalist friend about the dire socio-economic conditions of Armenia and its people. I asked her to name the single major obstacle standing in the way of country’s progress, in other words, how do we change course and avoid going ‘off the cliff?’ I asked because while I consider myself an optimist when it comes to Armenia, like my California-based friend, I have never shared the view that things will magically get better. Many of us expect progress in our personal and professional lives only if there is a plan in place as well as tangible steps forward, both of which have been non-existent in Armenia.