RCDS Insights: Nagorno-Karabakh Presidential Elections

RCDS Insights: Nagorno-Karabakh Presidential Elections




Presidential elections will be held in Nagorno-Karabakh. 




On September 1, Arayik Harutyunyan, the former president of Nagorno-Karabakh,  resigned, paving the way for the forthcoming election of a new president by Nagorno-Karabakh’s parliament on September 9. The nomination phase ended on September 7 and Samvel Shahramanyan is the only candidate and has held several meetings with the main parliamentary factions. Notably, he has secured the support of four out of five parliamentary factions. The only exception is Samvel Babayan's faction, (which holds nine seats) and has announced that they will abstain from voting for him. 


Babayan himself made a concerted effort to secure a nomination, but he faced obstacles along the way. To meet the eligibility criteria, he was required to be a resident and citizen of Nagorno-Karabakh for a minimum of ten years. However, due to Babayan's history of frequently changing his residency and registration, his nomination was rejected.


In an attempt to influence the election process, Babayan and his supporters plan to stage protests on September 9, the day of the vote. Their objective is to exert pressure on the legislature and impact the outcome. Shahramanyan’s election depends on securing a two-thirds majority vote. Babayan’s strategy is to prevent Shahramanyan from reaching this threshold in the first round of voting with the expectation that his nomination will be withdrawn in the second round due to insufficient support. 

Ultimately, Babayan’s goal is to come to power using street-level pressure tactics.



The primary concern revolves around the potential of clashes between Samvel Babayan’s supporters and the state security apparatus, coupled with the risk of heightened internal political tensions.


Furthermore, within the ongoing power struggle between these two political factions, there exists the looming potential for political repression to be employed by the eventual winner. 




The outcome of this election carries profound implications, particularly for Nagorno-Karabakh’s state policies regarding key security issues. This includes the ongoing blockade of the Lachin Corridor and other issues of key importance. 


It is noteworthy that Samvel Babayan advocates for direct dialogue with Baku, while the political coalition represented by Samvel Shahramanyan takes a more assertive stance on conflict-related matters. In essence, this election symbolizes a tug-of-war between two contrasting approaches to Nagorno-Karabakh’s future and divergent strategies for finding ways out of the deadlock.