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.
With 185 out of the nation’s 2,010 precincts counted, Pashinian’s My Step was garnering 66 percent of the vote, while the Republican Party that controlled the old parliament was a distant fourth with just under 4 percent, struggling to overcome a 5-percent barrier to make it into parliament. The pro-business Prosperous Armenia party was coming second with about 11 percent of the ballot, and the nationalist Dashnaktsutyun party was winning about 8 percent.
By the time the polls closed at 8 p.m. (1600 GMT, 11 a.m. EST), 49 percent of the nation’s eligible voters cast ballots. Full preliminary results are expected Monday.
Pashinian exuded confidence after casting his ballot in Yerevan, saying that he was sure that his bloc will win a majority in parliament.
Full Article: Armenia premier’s bloc winning vote, early returns show.