Armenia’s New Leaders Face Pressure to Govern, Not Simply Rule

Armenia’s New Leaders Face Pressure to Govern, Not Simply Rule
Supporters of newly installed Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stand on top of a vehicle as they protest in Republic Square, Yerevan, Armenia, May 2, 2018 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).

On May 8, Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was chosen by lawmakers to become the next prime minister, culminating three weeks of massive popular demonstrations against the country’s opaque and corrupt political establishment. The initial catalyst for the demonstrations was former President Serzh Sargsyan’s effort to hold onto power by assuming the premiership, having already revised the constitution to strengthen the prime minister’s executive powers. With expectations for change now running high, Pashinyan has his work cut out for him if he is to retain the support of the diverse coalition that brought him to power. In an email interview, Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center, an independent think tank in Yerevan, Armenia, discusses Pashinyan’s supporters, the opposition’s policy differences with Sargsyan’s Republican Party, and the role of Armenia’s civil society in ensuring that the goals of the popular mobilization are not abandoned.

World Politics Review: What political and demographic constituencies do Nikol Pashinyan and the other prominent political opposition parties in Armenia represent, compared to the ruling Republican Party?

Richard Giragosian: In terms of the political constituency of Nikol Pashinyan, the opposition leader who was elected prime minister this week, there are three important factors. First, the wave of mass demonstrations that led to his election differed from earlier political protests due to their positive and peaceful approach. What little anger there was on display was outweighed by enthusiasm and, later, victorious jubilation. This is revealing because it affirms the fact that the largely youthful activists behind the protests represented a new, much more constructive wave of activism, with many rallying around Pashinyan and embracing nonviolence and civil disobedience as their first experience with political activity.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.