Armenia’s next parliamentary and presidential elections will be “unprecedented” in terms of their transparency, Garegin Azarian, the chairman of the Central Election Commission, said on Tuesday. Azarian said the integrity of the electoral process in the country will improve markedly already during the parliamentary race scheduled for next spring.
“The openness of these elections will be unprecedented compared with previous elections,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service in an interview. Azarian based his stated optimism on fresh amendments to the Electoral Code that were enacted by the Armenian authorities in May. He singled out a new provision that requires the CEC to publicize every hour data on voter turnout from all of Armenia’s 2,000 or so polling stations.
President Serzh Sarkisian likewise stressed the importance of those amendments when he addressed the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Strasbourg last June. He pledged to “spare no effort” to ensure that the next Armenian elections are widely recognized as democratic.
Armenia’s leading opposition groups dismiss such statements, however. In particular, they point out that the CEC continues to be headed by Azarian, who was in charge of the last parliamentary and presidential elections marred by fraud reports.
Azarian claimed last month that elections are perceived as fraudulent by many Armenians because of opposition parties and candidates unjustly crying foul after their poor performance shown by official vote results. Sarkisian, the disputed winner of the 2008 vote, similarly complained earlier in July about the unwillingness of opposition forces to accept those results.