Yerevan Vote Reactions: Opposition parties decry municipal vote violations; ruling party takes landslide for granted

Yerevan Vote Reactions: Opposition parties decry municipal vote violations; ruling party takes landslide for granted

NAZIK ARMENAKYAN
ArmeniaNow

Opposition forces that participated in the May 5 elections to Yerevan’s Council of Elders have described yesterday’s vote as fraudulent accusing its big winner, the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), of staging violations and committing fraud to get the kind of result.

Lack of opposition unity was also blamed by some to explain the landslide victory (nearly 56 percent) registered by the RPA.

MP Stepan Safaryan from the opposition Heritage Party, which contested the elections as part of the Hello Yerevan bloc, said to ArmeniaNow: “Today we reap what we sow yesterday. The indifference of opposition political forces towards the outcome of the presidential election, the 600,000 votes [earned by Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian in February] did not help but prevented the opposition from taking that political capital and forming unity.”

Safaryan described the election outcome as the registration of a result obtained through a ‘dishonest and unfair’ way. He also suggested that the name of the bloc, Hello Yerevan, may have confused many voters who were looking for Heritage in the ballot paper. Hello Yerevan has narrowly entered the City Assembly clearing the 8-percent hurdle set for blocs of parties.

Zoya Tadevosyan, of the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) party, which did not clear the election threshold of 6 percent set for parties, described the municipal elections as elections of fraud and vote buying.

“I had thought that dignity hurt somewhere inside people and it was for this hurt dignity that criminals had to be rejected. But it turns out it didn’t hurt or dignity has a price tag on it and when cash is paid, dignity becomes secondary,” said Tadevoyan, adding that she could not say anything about the ANC’s plans at this point.

Earlier, the ANC issued a statement accusing the current “regime” of committing another electoral crime.

ArmeniaNow contacted Aghvan Vardanyan, of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF, Dashnaktsutuyn), which did not clear the election threshold either. But he did not provide a comment, saying that the ARF would formally present its assessment of the Election Day later during the day.

In a statement disseminated later on the ARF, in particular, said: “The fusion of the state and the governing party, the limitless application of administrative resources and wholesale vote buying have done their job.”

The Prosperous Armenia Party, which finished a distant second in the race, did not provide commentaries as of early afternoon either.

Meanwhile, RPA spokesman and manager of incumbent mayor Taron Margaryan’s campaign Eduard Sharmazanov said that the May 5 elections proved that democratic process in local elections in Armenia was ‘irreversible’. He said that as a result of the elections people will live in ‘a better Yerevan’ during the next four years.

Central Election Commission head Tigran Mukuchyan also praised the conduct of the elections, saying that they were held in an organized and calm manner.

Meanwhile, political analysts and pundits have presented different views on the Sunday vote.

Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center, wrote on his Facebook account yesterday: “After a similarly flawed presidential election in February, this election represents yet another ‘missed opportunity’ for progress in democratization and improved elections in Armenia.”