Armenian opposition protests as PM Pashinyan’s mandate slips

Foreign Brief
Dec 22 2020
  • In Daily Brief
  • December 22, 2020
  • Sinan Hanioglu

Armenian opposition groups will hold a protest today in Yerevan.

The demonstration will take place amid severe backlash against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s perceived mishandling of the 44-day conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan. Pashinyan’s signing of a Russian-brokered ceasefire last month returned significant territory to Azerbaijan, triggering mass protests that saw Armenians storm the nation’s parliament, presidential palace and Pashinyan’s private residence.

Despite the PM’s refusal to tender his resignation by the opposition’s Dec. 8 deadline, it is unlikely he will successfully retain his hold on power. Overwhelming public indignation and demands for his departure from all 17 opposition parties make Pashinyan’s political survival highly unlikely. Expect protests to grow in intensity until snap elections are called.

The government’s handling of the conflict’s fallout will also provide insights regarding the state of Armenia’s nascent democratic institutions. Public upheaval can only be overcome through meeting demands for fresh elections that would give the Armenian people the power to chart the country’s response to the national crisis. If the government refuses to hold early parliamentary elections, partisan actors, particularly on the right, could capitalise on mass discontent to threaten democratic rule.

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