Local Elections: Experts observed no serious violations in Sunday polls in three provinces

Specialists assess the elections of local government bodies as mostly positive and transparent.

On February 14, residents of the Armenian provinces of Lori, Syunik, and Tavush have for the first time chosen community leaders and council members after the recent enlargement of their provinces.

According to Haykak Arshamyan, a coordinator of an observation group involved in local elections, the activity of people, especially young ones, who were engaged in observation missions, was encouraging.

“No serious violations were registered, and generally the elections were carried out without violations. There were only a few problems in the town of Tumanyan. Firstly, the chairman of the committee was the deputy of the community head candidate. It is already a matter suggesting a conflict of interests. There is another big problem: voting instead of somebody else,” Arshamyan told media on Wednesday.

Abraham Artashyan, an expert at the Communities Finance Association NGO, said that interest in the elections has also increased in provinces.

“There was competition for getting in the council. It can be said that, for the first time, an interest in the local government evolved: people are trying to have their representative in order to defend their interests,” he said.

Nune Hovhannisyan, a member of the Central Election Commission, said that no local NGO was accredited to observe local elections.

“At first, a total of 8 community leader candidates were nominated in communities, but later only six of them were voted for: one candidate in the Tumanyan community, three in Tatev, and two in the Dilijan community. As many as 63 candidates for council members were nominated, three of whom were women,” said Hovhannisyan.

The final results of the local elections will be known on February 18, but according to preliminary results members of the ruling Republican Party or their loyalists have been elected in most communities. Opposition parties in Armenia routinely avoid fielding candidates in local elections.