Armenia’s parliament on March 2 voted for a new Sargsyan to serve as the South Caucasus nation’s next president.
Armen Sargsyan will replace Serzh Sargsyan (no relation), who is expected to become prime minister and continue to hold power after a December 2105 referendum changed Armenia’s form of government from a semi-presidential republic to a parliamentary system.
Armen Sargysan is a veteran of Armenia’s politics, having previously served as the country’s prime minister before becoming Yerevan’s current ambassador to the United Kingdom.
He was handpicked by Serzh Sargsyan to succeed him as president in January now that the office’s veto powers have been stripped and the presidency is being downgraded to a figurehead position.
According to the country’s new constitutional laws, parliament now elect the president to a single seven-year term. The president was previously selected through a direct popular vote by the public.
Serzh Sargsyan is a former military officer who fought in the 1988-94 Nagorny-Karabakh War against fellow former Soviet republic-turned-arch-enemy Azerbaijan and previously served as prime minister from 2007-2008.
During his time in office he has attempted to balance close relations with Armenia’s staunchest ally, as well as its military and economic lifeline, Russia, while cautiously forging the type of ties with Europe that have yet to anger Moscow.
Sargsyan’s critics, however, have decried his authoritarian tendencies, crackdown on the media, and his tendencies to emulate Russian President Vladimir Putin in his stifling political dissent and his handling of the liberal democratic opposition.