The Velvet Revolution in Armenia: How to Lose Power in Two Weeks
- Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
- Volume 26, Number 4, Fall 2018
- pp. 465-482
- Additional Information
The 2018 power transition in Armenia, known as the Velvet Revolution, took place roughly a year after the 2017 parliamentary election, in which the only opposition bloc of three parties—including the Civil Contract Party, led by Nikol Pashinyan, the future revolutionary leader—won just over 7% of the vote. The newly elected opposition MPs did not dispute the results of the election, but just a year later, mass protests toppled the regime in two weeks and Pashinyan became the new head of state. This article argues that the 2017 success and the 2018 demise of Armenia's regime had the same cause: the absence of a developed political party system in Armenia. It also argues that the revolution was triggered by a lack of alternative modes of mass political engagement and made possible by the weakness of the regime—its "multiple sovereignty." As a result, new elites were formed ad hoc from the pool of people who rose to power as a result of civil strife and who often adhere to a Manichaean worldview.