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Opposition demonstrators block the entrance of an underground carriage during a protest against former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s potential move to the prime minister’s seat, Yerevan, April 16, 2018 (PAN Photo via AP).

Armenia’s Changing Political Winds Threaten a Rare Moment of Stability

Monday, April 16, 2018

Last month, Armenia’s National Assembly elected onetime Prime Minister Armen Sarkissian as the country’s next president, replacing the long-tenured Serzh Sargsyan as head of state. It was the first presidential election since a 2015 constitutional referendum that was designed to shift power in Armenia from the presidency to parliament and, mainly, the prime minister. For the first time, Armenia’s president was selected by the National Assembly, rather than by popular vote.

While presidential votes have typically been contentious affairs in Armenia, Sarkissian’s election was initially met with comparative shrugs, and not just because the real power will now shift to the prime minister’s office, which Sargsyan is widely expected to slide into. Despite the political changes, the elections initially coincided with a rare period of relative stability in Armenia. Yet the country’s inherently volatile politics and strategic position make any reprieve fragile at best, as evidenced by the growing protests against Sargsyan’s nomination as prime minister in the capital, Yerevan.* ...

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