Elections in Armenia: Gloves go to "Velvet Revolution"

Elections in Armenia: Gloves go to "Velvet Revolution"

Paschinjan supporter in Yerevan, April 25, 2018image rights

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Mass protests in April kicked veteran leader Serzh Sargsyan out of office

The man behind the extraordinary "Velvet Revolution" that shook Armenia in April is facing a crucial test with early parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Former journalist and politician Nikol Pashinyan, 43, developed a peaceful transfer of power and aroused hope for economic transformation.

Almost a third of the 3 million Armenians are officially classified as poor. The unemployment rate is about 16% and the average monthly salary is 166,540 drams (£ 270, $ 343).

An important promise made by Mr. Pashinjan to tens of thousands of Armenians who participated in street protests was the country's first democratic parliamentary elections.

He remains very popular and few doubt that his My Step Alliance will be among the eleven parties and political blocs at the top.

"Grab her by the neck"

However, Mr Pashinyan's critics say early voting penalizes many parties.

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A huge election poster for Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan

"All political parties had time to prepare well for the elections," says Armen Ashotyan, vice-president of the former Republican ruling party.

He claims that his party members have been harassed and intimidated and have accused Mr. Pashinyan of hate speech.

At a rally, Mr. Pashinyan said he would "grab her the throat" – referring to Republican loyalists – and "throw her out of office."

"There is still a so-called post-revolutionary euphoria in Armenia, which will be reflected in the vote, which means that multi-party democracy in Armenia is in danger," says Ashotyan.

What makes this guide so popular?

Mr. Pashinyan regularly uses Facebook live broadcasts to act as an accessible politician.