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.
A veteran politician, Mr. Sargsyan, 58, is generally viewed as having presided over modest economic improvements in recent years, even as the country has struggled because of closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, its enemy in a continuing war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
But while Mr. Sargsyan’s victory has been predicted for months, there have been some unexpected developments in the campaign. One challenger, Andreas Ghukasian, a political commentator who manages a radio station in the capital, Yerevan, has been on a hunger strike, demanding that the incumbent be removed from the ballot.
Another challenger, Paruir A. Airikyan, was shot in the shoulder in late January in what the authorities described as an assassination attempt, although there was no known motive. He is a former Soviet dissident who promoted Armenian independence and has run unsuccessfully for president several times.