YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Nikol Pashinian has been appointed to a second term as prime minister of Armenia after his political alliance scored a landslide victory in snap parliamentary elections.
President Armen Sarkisian signed the relevant decree on January 14 as the new 132-seat parliament convened for its first session.
“Congratulations, Mr. prime minister,” Sarkisian told Pashinian at the presidential palace, adding: “Your success is our country’s success, our people’s, everyone’s success — including my own.”
“I want to emphasize that the main political change anticipated in Armenia has already happened: power has been fully returned to the people and democracy has been established in Armenia,” Pashinian said for his part.
Under the Armenian constitution, Pashinian has to name members of his cabinet and ask the president to formally appoint them within the next five days. He will then have 20 days to submit the government’s five-year policy program to the parliament. The program’s approval by the National Assembly will amount to a vote of confidence.
It is expected that most of the current cabinet members — including Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian — will retain their posts. Outgoing First Deputy Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Culture Minister Lilit Makunts have resigned to take up senior positions in the parliament.
Pashinian is expected to make major changes in the government’s structure. A controversial bill circulated by his office last month calls for reducing the number of ministries from 17 to 12. The post of first deputy prime minister would be abolished altogether.
Pashinian’s My Step alliance won more than 70 percent of the vote in the December 9 election and now holds 88 seats in the legislature.
Holding a majority in the single-chamber parliament has increased Pashinian’s power to pursue stated goals such as tackling corruption and reforming the economy of the South Caucasus country of 3 million.
The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) holds 26 seats and Bright Armenia holds 18 seats, while the HHK failed to clear the 5 percent threshold needed to secure parliamentary seats.
Armen Sarkissian, who has largely ceremonial powers, called on Pashinian’s government to carry out “many serious reforms in all areas” when he addressed the newly elected parliament earlier on Monday.
“The first phase of the political changes ends with the formation of the new National Assembly and the new government,” said the president. “A new phase starts: one of realization of hopes and promises and hard, consistent and daily work.”
“You have received ample opportunities to put into practice the ideas of the ‘velvet revolution,’ to live up to the society’s expectations and to build a new Armenia,” he told the 132 lawmakers representing My Step and the Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia parties.