Improved, but not genuinely competitive: Observers assess Vote 2013

Improved, but not genuinely competitive: Observers assess Vote 2013


Monday’s presidential election was peaceful and showed improvements over last May’s parliamentary election, according to observer groups in Armenia to monitor Monday’s vote.

The improved performance of the voting process, however, may be conditioned by the fact that there was a lack of competition for the country’s top post.

“The limited field of candidates meant that the election was not genuinely competitive,” reports the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly monitoring group. “The candidates who did run were able to campaign in a free atmosphere and to present their views to voters, but the campaign overall failed to engage the public's interest”.

The report says the fact that several influential political forces chose not to field candidates in this election seems to have contributed to apathy and a lack of trust among voters. Also it said the total lack of direct debates between candidates and a limited amount of critical journalism limited voters' ability to compare and contrast political platforms.

“There were persistent reports, particularly at local levels, of an unclear distinction between the campaign activities of the incumbent and state structures. These included misuse of administrative resources and pressure on public employees to participate in the election and campaign events. Until such practices are eliminated, there will not be a level playing field between electoral candidates, and Armenia will remain in breach of its commitments in the 1990 Copenhagen Document.

“The authorities repeatedly declared their intention to conduct democratic elections in line with OSCE commitments. The Prosecutor General's Office actively encouraged citizens to report instances of vote-buying or other violations and guaranteed that such reports would not lead to negative repercussions for those reporting. Unfortunately, allegations of vote-buying persist, somewhat undermining voters' confidence.”

ICES observation mission (International Center for Electoral Systems) said the elections were held in "a legitimate democratic act of the free will of the citizens, carried out in accordance with the country’s legislation and in general corresponded to the relevant provisions of the election law.”

According to ICES president Alexander Tsinker, the observers visited 134 polling stations on election day and the did not encounter any incident while monitoring. Tsinker also noted that significant positive change was registered compared to the past parliamentary elections. He said the presidential elections were held in a democratic competition of candidates and “adhere to basic principles and requirements of international law.”

The CIS observers also announced the elections were open, competitive, meet international standards and local legislation.