YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan lambasted one of the two opposition parties represented in Armenia’s parliament as he secured parliamentary approval of his government’s five-year policy program on Thursday.
In what amounted to a vote of confidence, the National Assembly endorsed the program by 88 votes to 40 after three days of heated debates which involved bitter recriminations between some opposition lawmakers and Pashinyan.
The government’s action plan was rejected by the deputies representing the opposition Bright Armenia (LHK) and Prosperous Armenia parties. Both parties said that it lacks concrete socioeconomic targets that would back up Pashinyan’s repeated pledges to carry out an “economic revolution.”
The LHK was particularly scathing about the 70-page document. Its leader, Edmon Marukian, said that an annual economic growth rate of 5 percent promised by the government is too modest.
Marukian also claimed that the government is full of “second-tier players” from former President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration. “With those cadres it’s impossible to do an economic revolution,” he said.
“My worry is that the majority of the public has started losing faith in their future,” said Mane Tandilyan, another LHK leader who served as labor minister in Pashinyan’s cabinet until last December.
A furious Pashinyan rejected the criticism in his final speech before the parliament vote. He was especially incensed by parallels drawn by the LHK between the current and previous Armenian governments.
“Don’t you try again to put me and them on the same plane,” he said. “Put yourself and them on the same plane because you were saying the same thing in 2018.”
Pashinyan recalled in this regard that the LHK refused to back him and his Civil Contract party when they started campaigning in March 2018 against Sarkisian’s attempt to cling to power. He charged that Marukian’s party, which holds 18 seats in the current parliament, favored instead behind-the-scene deals with Sarkisian and is now keen to whitewash the latter’s legacy.
“They’re saying that there was no revolution,” scoffed the premier. “Look around you. If there was no revolution, what are 18 of you doing here?”
The government program was drawn up and submitted to the parliament for approval last week two months after Pashinyan’s My Step alliance scored a landslide victory in snap general elections. The LHK finished a distant third in those polls.