Armenia appoints president completing shift to parliamentary system

2 March 2018
Armen Sargsyan (sut.am)

Armenia’s parliament has appointed Armen Sargsyan, who served as a prime minister in late 1990s, as the new president. This completes the country’s transition to a parliamentary system of governance.

The move has been called by opposition parties as an attempt by Serzh Sargsyan (who is not related to the new president) to hold onto power as Prime Minister, after serving the maximum two terms as president. Constitutional changes passed in 2015 mean the president will now hold a mostly ceremonial role, while the institute of Prime Minister will be strengthened.

Armen Sargsyan, who claims not to belong to any political party, was endorsed in February by the ruling Republican Party (HHK/RPA) and their allies — Dashnaktsutyun, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party. He had served as ambassador to the UK since 2013.

The outgoing president also named Armen Sargsyan as Armenia’s choice to succeed him, RFE/RL reported earlier in January.

According to Panorama.am, 65 MPs signed a petition to nominate Armen Sargsyan the new president. Ninety MPs voted in favour of Armen Sargsyan, with 10 votes against and one abstention.

The move is the final stage in the country’s transition away from a semi-presidential system. Armen Sargsyan’s will now serve a seven year term, up from five years for previous presidents.

In 2017 Parliamentary elections, the Republicans won 105 seats in parliament giving them a majority. The elections were the country’s first following the shift from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary system of government.

[Read OC Media’s analysis: Armenia’s ‘patronage democracy’]

The 2015 constitutional amendments have allowed former president Serzh Sargsyan to maintain his power by switching to the role of prime minister.

According to RFE/RL’s Azatutyun, the Republicans said that former Serzh Sargsyan can become the next PM, ‘despite pledging in 2014 not to stay in power after completing his second presidential term’.

Serzh Sargsyan, Armenia’s third president since independence, was elected in 2008, succeeding Robert Kocharyan. He was subsequently re-elected in 2013.

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