Early returns from Armenia’s snap parliamentary election Sunday show the country’s new prime minister’s bloc with a commanding lead — an outcome that would help further consolidate his power. The charismatic 43-year-old Nikol Pashinian took office in May after spearheading massive protests that forced his predecessor to step down. Pashinian has pushed for early vote to win control of a parliament that was dominated by his political foes. An ex-journalist turned politician, Pashinian has won broad popularity, tapping into public anger over widespread poverty, high unemployment and rampant corruption in the landlocked former Soviet nation of 3 million that borders Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran.
Armenia’s acting prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, has bolstered his authority after his political bloc won early parliamentary elections in the former Soviet country, the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) results showed. My Step Alliance, which includes Pashinyan’s Civil Contract Party, won 70.4% of the vote on Sunday based on results from all polling stations, the CEC said on its website. Results showed that two moderate opposition parties – Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia – got enough votes to clear the 5% threshold to enter parliament.
Lawmakers in Armenia triggered an early parliamentary election on Thursday after failing to elect a prime minister, a move sought by acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who quit as premier last month in order to force a new vote. Pashinyan, a former opposition leader who took power in May after a popular uprising, has long sought a new vote for parliament, which is still made up of members elected before demonstrators pushed the former ruling party out of power. By quitting and leaving parliament unable to find a successor, he forced parliament to dissolve and hold a new vote.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian vowed late on October 2 to tender his resignation in an effort to force early parliamentary elections before the end of the year. Rallying tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan, he also announced the firing of six government ministers representing the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutyun parties who he accused of hampering his drive for early elections. Pashinian called on supporters to rally outside the parliament building in central Yerevan immediately after lawmakers from the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun joined the former ruling Republican Party (HHK) in passing a bill that would make it harder for him to dissolve the current parliament.
Yerevan’s municipal election campaign formally kicked off on September 10, with 12 political parties and alliances taking part. The September 23 elections will be the first major election in Armenia since opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian became prime minister after leading a wave of antigovernment protests in May. Voters in the Armenian capital will elect the 65 members of the Council of Elders under a proportional representation system. The council will later elect a new mayor of Yerevan. Under Armenian election law, any political party or bloc winning more than 40 percent of the votes will have the top candidate on its list automatically elected mayor.
Armenia: Armenia contemplates the unlikely: a nonviolent revolution on the cusp of victory | Los Angeles Times
For weeks, Armenians attempted the unthinkable — to bring down their government through peaceful mass protests. On Monday night, they returned to the capital’s central Republic Square, this time to celebrate their impending victory. “I’m so proud to be Armenian now,” said Satenik Gevorgyan, 28. “This is the kind of change we’ve been waiting for all our lives.” Armenia’s parliament is expected to elect opposition leader Nikol Pashinian as prime minister Tuesday, nearly a month after the 42-year-old led hundreds of thousands of Armenians in a civil disobedience movement. The nonviolent demonstrations began in April and at times paralyzed the capital, Yerevan, with road blockages, labor strikes and street dance parties.
Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan failed in his attempt to become prime minister after the ruling Republican party refused to back his candidacy despite massive street demonstrations backing him. Pashinyan, who’s termed the protest movement a “velvet revolution,” gained 45 votes, eight short of the majority he needed to become premier in place of Armenia’s longtime ruler, Serzh Sargysan, who resigned last week as tens of thousands joined opposition demonstrations. The result means parliament will vote again in a week. A repeat of the result would trigger early elections. In the meantime, further civil unrest is likely.
Armenia’s opposition secured another victory on Thursday as the country’s parliament said it would hold a special session and new leader elections after weeks of protests and the resignation of its prime minster. The elections, set for 1 May, are part of a three-step opposition plan for a transition of power that includes electing a “people’s prime minister” and then holding snap parliamentary elections. Nikol Pashinyan, the charismatic leader of the opposition who has called for the country to root out corruption and voter fraud, appeared the favourite to be elected prime minister.
Armenia’s acting prime minister on Wednesday suggested calling a parliamentary election as tens of thousands staged a new protest in the capital against the ruling elite. Two weeks of demonstrations looked to have peaked on Monday when Serzh Sarksyan quit as prime minister. But the protesters have made clear they consider the whole government tainted by his drive to shift power to the premier from the president. “The fight is not over!” said 21-year-old Susana Adamyan, clutching a placard calling on others to take a stand.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has criticised Armenia’s weekend election, saying it had been tainted by instances of vote-buying and interference. President Serzh Sarksyan’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) won Sunday’s elections, official results showed, laying the foundation for a new parliamentary system of government. The OSCE said in a statement the elections were well-administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected. But, it added, they had been marked by organisational problems and undue interference in the process, mostly by party representatives. It also noted some pressure on civil servants as well as private sector employees.
Armenians will elect a new parliament on Sunday in a closely fought race between the ruling party and a former coalition partner that heralds the start of a parliamentary system of government. Under controversial constitutional reforms, parliament, rather than voters, will elect the president for the first time, and the office of prime minister will become more powerful, reducing the presidency to a largely ceremonial role. The opposition says the changes are a ruse to let President Serzh Sarksyan slip into an enhanced prime ministerial role at the head of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) when his presidential term ends in 2018. Sarksyan, 62, denies the reforms were designed to extend his political career.
The Armenian authorities officially confirmed on Monday that they will not implement a recent agreement with the opposition that was supposed to ensure the proper conduct of next year’s parliamentary elections. The Central Election Commission (CEC) attributed the deal’s collapse to logistical problems related to the introduction of a biometric registry of voters meant to prevent multiple voting by government loyalists. The compromise agreement reached with three parliamentary opposition parties in June committed the authorities to installing electronic machines that would check voters’ identity through plastic ID cards containing their fingerprints. The landmark deal, which took the form of amendments to Armenia’s new Electoral Code, also envisaged live online broadcasts of voting and ballot counting from all 2,000 or so polling stations across the country.
The National Assembly approved on Wednesday major amendments to Armenia’s new Electoral Code that stem from a compromise agreement reached by the government and the parliamentary opposition earlier this month. Government officials again made clear, however, that the amendments regulating the conduct of next year’s parliamentary elections will be annulled unless foreign donors pay for the purchase of special equipment needed for their implementation.
On March 3, a new Draft Electoral Code of Armenia was adopted at a cabinet sitting by the Armenian Government. Chief of Armenian Government Staff Davit Harutyunyan presented the Draft and announced that the final version of the document will be prepared through active political debates to be conducted until June 1. “The focus of the key discussions should be transferred to the political field, and for that reason some discussions are proposed to be held at the National Assembly. The adoption of the Code signals the launch of public discussion phase to be held at the National Assembly,” Harutyunyan sajd. Two major innovations were introduced into the new Code. One provision states that the Head of local self-government bodies in Gyumri, Vanadzor communities shall be elected directly by electors like in Yerevan City. “This is the first step and I think the list will expand and we will move toward strengthening of the role of political forces in the communities,” Harutyunyan added.
The United States urged Armenia on Tuesday to investigate any credible reports of irregularities in a weekend referendum in which preliminary results showed voters approving a strengthening of the prime minister’s powers. The changes envisaged in Sunday’s referendum, which are due to come into force after elections in May 2017, would curb the role of the historically powerful president and give more authority to the Armenian prime minister and parliament. The opposition has said the changes are a ruse to let President Serzh Sarksyan take on an enhanced prime ministerial role at the head of the Republican Party after his presidential term ends in 2018. He has denied that. His supporters have said the changes are needed to prevent political instability.
Armenians voted in a referendum to boost the prime minister’s powers, results showed on Monday, a move supporters say will bolster stability but opponents warn will entrench the ruling party’s control over the ex-Soviet state. Observers from the Council of Europe rights group reported problems with the voting lists and other irregularities, and said that the low turnout suggested many voters saw Sunday’s referendum as a piece of political maneuvering. The ruling Republican party, which called the vote, said minor violations could not affect the result.
Armenians voted to curb presidential powers in a disputed referendum, official results showed Monday, but the opposition said the reforms aimed to keep President Serzh Sarkisian in power and called for protests. Around two-thirds (63 percent) backed the constitutional changes in Sunday’s referendum, with 32 percent voting against, according to preliminary results from the election commission. Turnout in the referendum stood at 51 percent. However, monitors from the Council of Europe criticised irregularities in the referendum, adding that “too many citizens” saw the reforms as “a means for the current president to remain in power”.
On December 6, citizens of Armenia will vote in a referendum to change the country’s constitution. It needs 638,583 “yes” votes to pass. Hetq has taken a look at past national elections and has revealed that while the number of residents in Armenia has been decreasing, the number of eligible voters has increased. Armenia’s first constitution after regaining independence was adopted on July 5, 1995. At the time, according to official figures, the country’s population was 3,753,500 and the number of eligible voters was 2,189,804. According to September 2015 official figures, 3,007,300 people live in Armenia and as of November 6, 2,554,332 have the right to vote.
Amid opposition allegations of serious fraud planned in Armenia’s upcoming constitutional referendum, the National Assembly passed in the final reading on Wednesday a bill that eases legal requirements for voter identification in polling stations. Voters in Armenia have until now had to show election officials their national passports before being able to cast ballots in elections and referendums. Under the controversial bill, those of them who do not have passports would be allowed to produce only plastic ID cards introduced in Armenia in recent years. According to government estimates, over 180,000 voting-age Armenians hold only this kind of IDs. Lawmakers from the ruling Republican Party (HHK), who have drafted the bill, say that they too should be able to vote.
Armenia: ID Debate: Issue of voting by identification cards comes up ahead of Dec. 6 referendum | Armenia Now
This week the debate in Parliament over making addenda in the Election Code and in the law on Identity Cards ahead of the December 6 constitutional referendum has given rise to new concerns among opposition parties that believe that identification cards are a loophole for multiple voting because it will not be possible to put stamps on ID cards like in passports which is done to prove that a person has already voted. With the changes in the law proposed by the government people will be allowed to vote with identification cards. A total of 500,000 people in Armenia have ID cards, of whom 176 are without passports. The National Assembly has already rejected the draft law of parliamentarian Tigran Urikhanyan, who offered not only to give those half a million people, who have ID cards, a chance to vote, but also through special devices to prevent possible multiple voting. The Republicans’ refusal is grounded by the fact that it would not be technically possible to purchase and install the appropriate equipment by the time the referendum is to be held.
The Armenian polls that saw President Serzh Sarkisian win re-election were free of any serious violations, the central elections commission said Monday as it released the poll’s final results. Serzh Sarkisian scored crushing victory in last week’s presidential elections seen as a crucial test for the ex-Soviet state. “In the course of the electoral campaign and the vote, there were no violations that could have affected the elections’ result,” said the head of the Central Elections Commission, Tigran Mukuchyan. “Serzh Azatovich Sarkisian has been elected President of the Republic of Armenia,” he announced.
About 5,000 flag-waving protesters rallied on Wednesday against Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan’s re-election, saying his victory was tainted by fraud.
Supporters of Sarksyan’s second-placed rival Raffi Hovannisian filled Freedom Square in the centre of the capital Yerevan to condemn what they said were uncounted ballots and other violations. “Are you ready to stay here long?” Hovannisian asked the crowd. “Are you ready to stay here until victory? I’m ready. The constitution should win over fraud,” he said, raising a first above his head after kneeling to kiss the national flag.
President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia easily won re-election to a second five-year term, according to preliminary returns released on Tuesday by the Central Election Commission. The preliminary results showed Mr. Sargsyan with about 59 percent of the vote, enough to win the presidency outright and avoid a runoff. The former foreign minister, Raffi Hovanessian, was a distant second with about 37 percent, the returns showed. Armenians went to the polls on Monday with Mr. Sargsyan heavily favored to win and maintain stability in a country that has become an increasingly important, if uneasy, United States ally in monitoring Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Armenians have begun voting in presidential elections already marred by the shooting of an opposition candidate and the lack of any prominent alternative to incumbent Serzh Sarksyan. The government is hoping for a peaceful election that will improve the country’s prospects of European integration, after the disputed presidential elections that brought Sarksyan to power in 2008 ended in clashes in which 10 people died. Sarksyan has called for the elections to be “exemplary” and stressed that Armenia has “no future” if its polls cannot correspond to European standards. Most opinion polls give Sarksyan a strong lead and the fractured opposition forces have failed to find a common challenger to the incumbent leader. … International observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe will monitor voting, which was scheduled to end at 1600 GMT.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is poised for victory in elections next week after rivals withdrew from a campaign that’s been dominated by one candidate’s attempted assassination and another’s hunger strike. Sargsyan, 59, has 69 percent support before the Feb. 18 vote, compared with 11 percent for his nearest challenger, Raffi Hovhannisyan, a former foreign minister, according to a Gallup poll published Feb. 9. Paruyr Hayrikyan, a former dissident who was shot and wounded in a Jan. 31 incident, has 5 percent backing, while Andrias Ghukasyan, who hasn’t eaten in 26 days and calls the ballot “fake,” has 1 percent, the survey showed.
A new type of ink will be used in the February 18 presidential election, as announced Tuesday by the Central Election Commission — one that is hoped to perform better than the type that was used in last May’s parliamentary elections that resulted in charges of fraud, as the ink evaporated long before its intended duration. The ink, applied into passports of participating voters, is meant to prevent repeated voting. While it is hoped that the new ink will fulfill its aim, at least one member of the ICES monitoring mission has urged Armenia to abandon the practice in favor of more modern methodology.
An Armenian presidential candidate who was shot last month cancelled an application to postpone next week’s election, a Constitutional Court spokesman said on Monday, paving the way for the vote to be held as scheduled. Paruyr Hayrikyan, an outsider in the race which is widely expected to see current President Serzh Sarksyan win a new five-year term, was shot in the shoulder on January 31 near his home in the capital Yerevan. Hayrikyan, who had initially said he would not delay the vote, asked the Constitutional Court for a two-week postponement of the February 18 poll, raising concerns over instability in the former Soviet republic of 3.2 million.
An Armenian presidential candidate who was shot has appealed for this month’s election to be delayed to allow him more time to campaign, raising concerns over instability in the former Soviet republic. Paruyr Hayrikyan, who was shown on television looking pale and bedridden with his arm in a cast, had initially said he would not seek a postponement. He changed his mind just few hours before a deadline to apply to the Constitutional Court to delay the February 18 vote after doctors advised him to remain in hospital. “We’ve applied the Constitutional Court with a request to postpone the election for two weeks due to Paruyr Hayrikyan’s health problems and the fact that he can’t campaign,” Vrezh Zatikyan, the candidate’s aide, told Reuters.
With less than ten days to go before Armenia’s February 18 presidential vote, Armenians still do not know for sure when, exactly, the election will take place. The reason is presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikian, the victim of a January 31 shooting attack. By law, Hayrikian can ask the Constitutional Court to postpone the vote for two weeks to give him time to recover his health; a request he had previously indicated he would make. But on Tuesday, he decided against such a move. Then, late on Thursday, he changed his mind again. At last word, Hayrikian intended to file the request on February 8, but a spokesperson for the Constitutional Court told EurasiaNet.org late in the day that it still had not heard from him. The Court will remain open over the weekend in case Hayrikian stands by his latest decision and requests a delay in the elections.
Armenia: Wounded presidential candidate has health setback, still mulling election delay | ArmeniaNow.com
An opposition presidential candidate recovering after suffering a gunshot wound in what was apparently an attempted assassination last week says he has been on painkillers since yesterday after his health condition deteriorated – a factor that potentially puts the February 18 election at risk again. Paruyr Hayrikyan, a Soviet-era dissident who currently heads a moderate opposition party, National Self-Determination Union, was hospitalized shortly after being attacked by a yet unidentified gunman on January 31. He subsequently refused to use the opportunity granted by the Armenian Constitution to ask the highest court for a two-week postponement of the ballot due to an “insurmountable obstacle” to his campaign, saying that while it would be a legitimate demand, he did not want to undermine the democratic electoral process.