Vote 2012: Top election official calls Sunday polls “essential progress”

Tigran Mukuchyan, the head of the Central Election Commission (CEC), described the May 6 parliamentary elections in Armenia as “essential progress” as he gave a press conference in Yerevan on Wednesday.

In the view of the head of the body administering the process, the elections giving the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) a landslide victory amounted to the “most transparent, public and controlled” elections in Armenia ever.

Mukuchyan’s comments were in harmony with what the political leadership in Armenia has said before and after the elections. President Serzh Sargsyan and other senior members of the government had pledged to hold the best elections in the history of independent Armenia – a circumstance also attached a great deal of importance to by Armenia’s international partners, notably the European Union and the United States.

An RPA spokesman has already described the Sunday vote as Armenia’s “best in the 21st century.” Other senior figures of the party also praised the process as a considerable step forward.

Opposition groups, meanwhile, have been mostly unhappy with the conduct of the elections, saying that the large-scale use of administrative resources, electoral roll fraud and vote buying schemes in favor of the establishment parties had significantly distorted their final outcome that gave two opposition parties and one bloc only a marginal representation in the next National Assembly.

The international observers, meanwhile, gave a mixed assessment to the elections. In their preliminary findings presented on Monday, the nearly 300 observers mostly deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe praised the pre-election environment in the country but reported irregularities in a “significant number” of polling stations on voting day.

In contrast to the previous OSCE reports on Armenian elections, the international observers did not say whether or not they think the latest vote met democratic standards.

In his remarks on Wednesday the Armenian CEC’s head said he was confused with that kind of assessment.

“Because of their formulations it is very difficult to understand whether they reported the positive or the negative,” Mukuchyan said. “The emphasis is incomprehensible.”

The CEC chief said while he agreed with some of the conclusions drawn in the OSCE-led mission’s report, he still could not accept others. “There are procedures which I think need to be clarified,” he said without elaborating.