Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan failed in his attempt to become prime minister after the ruling Republican party refused to back his candidacy despite massive street demonstrations backing him. Pashinyan, who’s termed the protest movement a “velvet revolution,” gained 45 votes, eight short of the majority he needed to become premier in place of Armenia’s longtime ruler, Serzh Sargysan, who resigned last week as tens of thousands joined opposition demonstrations. The result means parliament will vote again in a week. A repeat of the result would trigger early elections. In the meantime, further civil unrest is likely.
“Our counter-operations will be very quick — we’re announcing a total labor and student strike,” Pashinyan told supporters gathered on the capital, Yerevan’s central square on Tuesday. “I want you to know that our struggle can’t end without victory; there’s no other alternative.”
Parliament’s decision threatens to plunge the tiny Caucasus nation deeper into political crisis. Tens of thousands of protesters backed Pashinyan, who’d warned that the Republicans may try to retain power and thwart his candidacy. Amid public anger at poverty and corruption, Pashinyan led protests last month to oust Sargsyan, who sought to prolong his decade-long rule by switching jobs following constitutional changes that concentrated power in the premier’s hands.