Armenia’s Parliamentary Elections commented by international community

On Sunday 6 May 2012, the parliamentary elections took place in Armenia. The National Assembly is composed of 131 seats. 90 members are elected in the proportional system and 41 members are directly elected with a simple majority in their constituency.
The international observers of the elections came mainly from four institutions: the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament. On Monday 7 May, the observers held a press conference during which they characterised the elections as “competitive and largely peaceful”, while shying away from giving one overall assessment. They noted considerable progress in a number of areas, in particular regarding freedom of assembly, media freedom, the electoral code and vote counting. Shortcomings were noted especially in regards to “charity campaigning”, vote buying and voter intimidation. However, the observers noted that it was impossible to assess the quantitative influence of these shortcomings on the overall outcome of the elections and that in any case, the full report to be published in 8 weeks will provide more clarity on quantitative assessments. Responding to a journalist, they stated that these parliamentary elections did mark an improvement compared to the previous elections in Armenia.

Please click here to read the Preliminary Findings.

 

Moreover, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton has made a statement on the Parliamentary elections in Armenia.

Please click here to read the Statement.

 

Below we provide you with two media articles about the elections.

 

Armenia ruling party heads for election victory

(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17973353)

Armenia’s ruling Republican Party is on course to retain power after parliamentary elections.

The Republican Party, led by President Serge Sarkisian, has polled 46% with more than 50% of votes counted.

The main opposition force, the Prosperous Armenia party, is trailing on around 31%. The Armenian National Congress, led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, is on course to cross the 7% threshold needed to win seats in parliament. Sunday’s vote passed off peacefully, but opposition groups have complained of irregularities.

 

Previous polls have been marred by allegations of fraud. One observer told the BBC that the scene at one polling station in the capital Yerevan was chaotic, with 15% more votes counted than voters registered.

 

There have also been reports of people voting without being asked for ID, reports the BBC’s Damien McGuinness from neighbouring Georgia. And the ink stamps on passports of some people who had already voted faded within 15 minutes, allowing them to vote again, our correspondent adds. Turnout exceeded 62% of eligible voters, according to Armenia’s election commission.

 

Opposition fears fraud

 

The 2008 presidential vote led to clashes between police and protesters which left 10 people dead after then Prime Minister Serge Sarkisian was declared the winner. However, Mr Sarkisian denied that there had been any fraud in Sunday’s poll. “We have managed to turn the political fight into a fair competition,” he told supporters during campaigning, according to the Reuters news agency.

 

Ahead of the vote, about 150 suffered burn injuries when gas-filled balloons exploded during a campaign rally of the Republican Party. The vote is being monitored by about 300 observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In an interim report on the election, the OSCE mission said the candidates had been able to campaign freely, but noted that there had been cases of illegal campaigning in schools on behalf of the Republican Party. They are due to issue another report on the elections on Monday.

 

Opposition parties have voiced concern that there are signs of possible multiple voting and inflated voters’ lists. European observers said the last parliamentary vote, in 2008, generally meet international standards. The Republican Party had emerged from that election as the largest party, with almost 33% of the vote. Unemployment and poverty have been the main focus of the campaign.

 

Armenian’s economy was badly hit by the 2008-9 global financial crisis, and remains hobbled by a trade blockade imposed by neighbouring Turkey and Azerbaijan since the 1990s conflict with Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

 

 

Armenian president’s party leads parliamentary election-CEC

(Source: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/05/07/uk-armenia-election-idUKBRE84602S20120507)
(Reuters) – Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan’s Republican Party is on course to win Sunday’s parliamentary election, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said.

 

Its main partner in the previous coalition, the Prosperous Armenia party led by wealthy businessman Gagik Tsarukyan, was set to finish second, the CEC said on its website. After counting results from more than 50 percent of the polling stations, the CEC said the Republican Party had won 46.23 percent and Prosperous Armenia 30.72 percent of the vote.

According to preliminary results, three more parties are likely to win the 5 percent of votes needed to enter parliament in the former Soviet republic. The Armenian National Congress, an opposition coalition led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, might also cross the 7-percent threshold set for blocs of parties to win seats.

 

Many voters and Armenian leaders had hoped the election would be a landmark for democracy after voting irregularities marred the last parliamentary election in 2007 and clashes killed 10 people after the presidential vote in 2008. More than 300 international observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitored voting and will give their initial verdict on Monday. The exit poll showed after voting ended in the South Caucasus country that Republican Party would keep its grip on power, with Prosperous Armenia in second place.

 

There were no reports of violence, an encouraging sign for the nation that wants stability to boost its economy, devastated by a war with neighbouring Azerbaijan in the 1990s and then the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. The parties made social problems and economic issues the main issues of an election campaign that was unusually active for Armenia, Russia’s main ally in the South Caucasus. There were no major differences in their economic programmes, which call for more active development of domestic industry and continuation of cooperation with Russia as well as international financial organisations.

 

A blast at a campaign rally injured about 150 people on Friday, briefly raising fears of violence, but emergency officials said it was caused by gas-filled balloons exploding.

 

Armenia is nestled among mountains in a region that is emerging as an important route for oil and gas exports from the Caspian Sea to world markets, although it has no pipelines of its own. Although a ceasefire was reached in 1994, its conflict with Azerbaijan over the tiny Nagorno-Karabakh region remains unresolved and a threat to stability. Relations with another neighbour, Turkey, are also fraught because Ankara does not recognise as genocide the killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War One.

 

 

More sources:

 

The New York Times: Armenian Parliamentary Elections Strengthen Ruling Party

Huffington Post: Armenia Elections: Armenian Parliamentary Vote A Test For President Serge Sarkisian

Le Monde: En Arménie, le parti au pouvoir remporte les législatives

Le Figaro: Arménie/élections:victoire de Sarkissian

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