Armenian Election Tests the Revolution’s Power Shift – The New York Times

YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenians began voting on Sunday in an early parliamentary election as acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan sought a stronger mandate, having been elected by lawmakers in May, after a peaceful revolution this year.

Mr. Pashinyan came to power after weeks of mass protests in April against corruption and cronyism in the former Soviet republic. A former newspaper editor who was jailed for fomenting unrest in 2008, Mr. Pashinyan represents a drastic break from the cadre of rulers who have run Armenia since the late 1990s.

He stepped down in October so that Parliament could be dissolved in readiness for the early election. Former high-ranking officials were dismissed, and some were arrested following the power change. On Friday, a court of appeal ordered the detention of former President Robert Kocharyan on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.

He was first arrested in July but freed the following month, and the case was sent to the appeals court. Mr. Kocharyan was Armenia’s second president, serving from 1998 to 2008, when mass protests erupted over a disputed election.

The former ruling Republican Party, however, still dominates the current Parliament that was elected in 2017.

Mr. Pashinyan has said he expects Sunday’s vote to lead to a legislature that better reflects the nation’s new political landscape.

Nine parties and two blocs are taking part in the election, and opinion polls suggest the My Step Alliance, which includes Mr. Pashinyan’s Civil Contract Party, will easily win a parliamentary majority. Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. local time, and voting was due to end at 8 p.m.

After taking office, Mr. Pashinyan promised there would be no major shifts in Armenian foreign policy and offered assurances he would not break with Moscow. Armenia hosts a Russian military base and is a member of Russia-led military and economic alliances.

Mr. Pashinyan also suggested he would stick with existing policies on the long-running issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. A mountainous part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh is run by ethnic Armenians who declared independence from Baku during a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991.

Though a cease-fire was cemented in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia still regularly accuse each other of conducting attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Azeri-Armenian border.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/09/world/europe/armenia-election-revolution.html

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