Gagik Beglaryan Will Be Mayor
YEREVAN (A.W.)—In the first-ever municipal elections that were held in Armenia’s capital, the Republican Party won the overwhelming majority of votes, it was revealed on June 1.
The Republican Party, which is the ruling party in the Armenian government, earned 47 percent of the vote, 7 percentage points more than was necessary to secure a mandate for appointing its candidate, incumbent Gagik Beglaryan, as mayor. Only 53 percent of registered voters participated in the municipal elections.
The Prosperous Armenia Party, a pro-government coalition member, came in second with just under 23 percent of the vote, followed by the oppositional Armenian National Congress, a federation of political parties that categorically reject Serge Sarkisian’s presidency, earning 17 percent of the vote. The Congress, led by Levon Ter-Petrosian, was hoping for a strong victory.
The other coalition partner Orinats Yerkir, whose mayoral candidate Heghine Bisharian during her campaign made public her magnificent obsession with beautifying Yerevan, claimed only 5 percent of cast ballots.
The ARF-Dashnaktsutiun, People’s Party, and Socialist Workers’ Party earned 4.6 percent, 2.1 percent, and 0.5 percent of the vote, respectively.
Since Armenian law stipulates that a political party must earn at least 7 percent of total cast votes to have representation in the municipal assembly, only the Republican Party, Prosperous Armenia, and the Armenian National Congress will be able to hold seats.
The final results clearly indicate that the government ruling parties will continue to maintain absolute control over Yerevan by holding the majority of the 65 municipal assembly positions. Although the losing oppositional parties vow not to recognize the legitimacy of the vote, there is little they can do short of demanding new elections, which is unlikely to happen.
Several violations were reported throughout election day on May 31, most notably in the Malatia-Sebastia district of Yerevan. There, residents complained of being cheated out of bribes for voting for a particular party. In one voting precinct, discussions about party candidates were purportedly held in the ballot casting area. Ballot stuffing was also reported in precincts throughout the district, and there were alleged assaults on election monitors and journalists.
There were reports of people being transported to Yerevan purportedly to participate in the elections. An estimated 500 Gyumri residents left for Yerevan in a caravan coordinated by city mayor Vartan Ghukasyan, a Republican, and deputy mayor Gagik Manukyan. Others were said to have been en route to Yerevan from Vanadzor, as well.
At early evening on June 1, a pre-scheduled rally was held by the Armenian National Congress on the steps of the Matenadaran, where Levon Ter-Petrosian addressed a crowd of at least 10,000 sympathizers. As has been the case for previous opposition rallies, transportation to Yerevan from the regions was restricted in order to prevent opposition supporters from entering the capital to attend the rally.
Ter-Petrosian insinuated that the Congress would have earned far more ballots in its favor had it not been for the widespread vote buying; he estimated between 100,000 and 150,000 rogue voters were responsible. In his closing remarks, Ter-Petrosian claimed that the Congress contingent would refuse its earned municipal assembly positions in protest of the outcome of the elections.
The ARF-Dashnaktsutiun announced that it would not accept the legitimacy of the election, and its Central Election Commission delegate, Hamlet Abrahamian, would not approve the official results with his signature.