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Armenian Ruling Party Eases to Election Victory

Although the country recently switched to a parliamentary system, critics fear President Serzh Sargysan will remain its most powerful man when he leaves office.

3 April 2017

Armenia’s ruling Republican Party has retained its strong hold on power after yesterday’s parliamentary elections.

 

Results reported by the Central Election Commission today give the Republican Party 49.12 percent of the vote, while the opposition coalition headed by wealthy businessman Gagik Tsarukyan (pictured) trailed behind with 27.32 percent, Reuters reports.

 

The elections are the first since a constitutional amendment two years ago reduced the powers of the presidency by changing the country into a parliamentary system. President Serzh Sargsyan, who heads the Republican Party, cannot run for re-election when his second term expires next year.

 

There were some reports of voting irregularities. By last evening, the Prosecutor General’s office had received 1,317 reports of alleged irregularities, of which 226 appeared to show evidence of election fraud, Mediamax.am reports.

 

Ahead of election day, a senior Republican Party official acknowledged that voters were being paid, but insisted they were not bound by these “donations.”

 

“People can take it and go make a choice according to their conscience,” the official, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hermine Naghdalyan, said 31 March, according to EurasiaNet.org.

 

Opposition politicians complained of voting irregularities including violations of ballot secrecy and multiple voting. 

 

Concerns over the transparency of the process prompted the U.S. Embassy and EU delegation to Armenia to issue a statement before the election noting “allegations of voter intimidation, attempts to buy votes, and the systemic use of administrative resources to aid certain competing parties," Deutsche Welle reports.

 

 

  • Two other parties won enough votes to enter parliament – an opposition bloc called Yelk (“Way Out”), with 7.77 percent of the vote, and the nationalist, government loyal Dashnaktsutyun Party with 6.57 percent.

 

  • A referendum in 2015 approved constitutional changes Sargsyan’s critics said were the prelude to his becoming prime minister after his presidential term ends.

 

  • Last year the government was rocked by a hostage crisis and the worst flare-up in fighting in years with Azerbaijani forces near the breakaway, Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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