The political bloc of PM Nikol Pashinyan—’My Step’—dominated Sunday’s municipal elections in Yerevan. Comedian-turned politician Hayk Marutian garnered over 81-percent of the votes (more than what was required to have a top mayoral candidate). With this victory, Marutian is positioned to become mayor of Yerevan—Armenia’s largest city with a population of 1.8 million people.
The election featured eight parties and four party blocs nearly two months after former mayor Taron Markaryan resigned in the aftermath of mass protests. Since the first Yerevan mayoral elections in 2009 (previously, the mayor was selected by the President), the Republican Party (RPA) has always comfortably won the 65 seats in the Yerevan Council of Elders; but it appears those days are gone, as this time, the RPA did not even submit candidates. To learn more about Marutian and his rise to prominence, read columnist Raffi Elliott’s profile here.
These were the first major elections in the wake of the Velvet Revolution—a veritable test for the new authorities on many dimensions, including their popularity, as well as ability to hold free and fair elections in a country with a track record of vote buying and corruption. To the best of his knowledge, Pashinyan says he’s confident that Sunday’s elections were not tainted with these “criminal elements.”
In New York this week ahead of his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Pashinyan pushed for snap parliamentary elections. Mr. Pashinyan expressed a sense of urgency in moving up the June 2019 legislative elections to improve the country’s economic environment.