At least two competing opinion polls have shown that Armenia’s richest businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s election bloc named “Tsarukian” after him, is leading the race for the April 2 elections with 40-41% rating.
Continue reading “Gagik Tsarukian, Armenia’s Trump, leading in Parliamentary Election Polls”
Armenia is heading to the polls today. Reluctantly. Everyone I’ve talked to is sure that the incumbent president Serzh Sarkissian is going to win his second term. Yet not one of those people said they’ll vote for Sarkissian… Continue reading “Nothing Exciting: A Preview of Armenian Elections”
Among continuous opposition protests, in a situation, when main opposition challenger Ter-Petrossian’s supporters are being bullied, fired from their jobs or arrested, with the most recent cases being those of New Times party Aram Karapetyan’s and Smbat Ayvazyan’s arrests, the Central Electoral Commission has announced the final results of the election vote count, according to which Serzh Sargsyan has been elected president.The final results announced at the CEC sitting are as follows:
Artur Baghdasaryan – 272.427 votes, or 17,7%,
Artashes Geghamyan – 7524 votes, or 0,46%,
Tigran Karapetyan – 9792 votes, or 0,6%,
Aram Harutyunyan – 2892 votes, or 0,17%,
Vahan Hovhannisyan – 100.966 votes, or 6,2%,
Vazgen Manukyan – 21075 votes, or 1,3%,
Arman Melikyan – 4399 votes, or 0,27%,
Serzh Sargsyan 862.369 votes, or 52,82%,
Levon Ter-Petrossyan 351.222 votes, or 21,2%.
Interestingly, the “Orinats Yerkir”(“Rule of Law”) and “Zharangutyun” (“Heritage”) party representatives were not participating in the CEC session, while the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun representative at the CEC – Hamlet Abrahamyan has expressed his special opinion on the elections, saying, that the violence, vote buying and bullying seen in the Armenian elections give him grounds to state, that the electoral system in Armenia needs a deep and major revision.
A reader of E-channel has sent in a video material, illustrating a case of ballot stuffing on the February 19 Presidential Elections.
We can see how a man is stuffing the ballot box, while the electoral commission members watch him without attempting to interfere or stop the illegal activity.
Opposition Protest in front of Government Building © Photo by Artur Papyan, Yerevan, 2008
Armenian opposition gathered more then 50 thousand supporters for a rally protesting the election results in front of Matenadaran today, closing the Mashtots avenue from Matenadaran till Nairi Cinema theater. Nikol Pashinyan, one of the most vocal opposition leaders, editor in-cheif of the Haykakan Zhamanak daily announced, that the opposition denounces the elections, and calls for a new round of elections. Presidential candidate, Former President Levon Ter-Petrossian in his speech characterized the elections as “shameful”. He further called Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan’s victory the “victory of the criminal world, ….victory of Mher from Tokhmakh, Mouk from Mkhchyan, Nemets Rubo, Dodi Gago, Lfik Samo…” , naming the oligarchs supporting the Prime Minister, who according to preliminary data, has won the elections by more then 52 %.
The elections signified by an incredible number of violations, are over. I spent the election day in the newsroom of the Echannel.am. Complaints and information on various violations kept pouring in. The situation was apparently several times worse in the Regions. Our journalists visited several sites of violations and noted the boldness with which those were being carried out: ballots stuff, voters intimidated, journalists hindered from their work. Reports from Hetq, Echannel, Armnifo, A1plus give me enough background to state, that the authorities most coldheartedly raped the concept of free and fair elections and might as well get away with it. Anyway, below is some official data on the outcome of elections from Echannel.am.
The president of the Central Electoral Commission Garegin Azatyan informed that in the elections of February 19 in 1913 polling stations from 1923 opened in Armenia voted about 1 million 669thousand 114 voters. The following is the breakdown of votes for all candidates:
- Serzh Sargsyan -859 658 votes
- Levon Ter Petrosyan – 349 781 votes
- Arthur Baghdasaryan -271 698 votes
- Vahan Hovhannisyan- 100 545 votes
- Vazgen Manoukyan -20 930 votes
- Tigran Karapetyan -9 747 votes
- Artashes Geghamyan -7 458 votes
- Arman Melikyan – 4 354 votes
- Aram Harutyunyan 3 098 votes
For live chart of election results click here: http://elections.am/ActiveElection.swf
With only six hours to go till the polling stations close in Armenia, the international media seem to be largely uninterested in the developments here, with very basic coverage of the elections only available from major international news agencies, as well as the BBC and Euronews.
The elections are largely described as a transfer of power from outgoing leader Robert Kocharyan to his ally and prime minister Serzh Sarksyan. All international media reports point to economic growth, as the main factor in favor of Serzh Sargsyan – described as the clear frontrunner, although some point to doubts about the validity of the polls indicating Prime Minister’s high rating.
The BBC describes the Armenian elections as “fiercely-contested”, resulting from the dramatic comeback of Armenia’s former President Levon Ter-Petrosian as an opposition candidate.
Bloomberg is mostly concentrating on the possibility of street protests by the opposition over raising concerns that the vote may be rigged. The information service points to the fact, that Armenia is under pressure from U.S. and the European Union to strengthen its democracy at a time when it is receiving hundred of millions of dollars in aid, indicating, that there have already been charges against the authorities by the main opposition challenger Levon Ter-Petrossian of government attempts to control the vote and ensure Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan’s victory.
Reuters also notes, the opposition claims, that the campaign has been unfair, and predicts street protests, as in the case of previous elections in Armenia which “have been followed by mass opposition protests alleging ballot fraud. However, the news service notes the polls, which “give Sarksyan a lead over the rest of the field, led by former former speaker of parliament Artur Baghdasaryan and Levon Ter-Petrosyan, a former president who was forced to resign in 1998 but is now seeking a comeback, and quotes Sarksyan saying:”
If there is a second round I would prefer to fight against Levon Ter-Petrosyan”.
Euronews is highlighting the fact, that “failure of the opposition to unite around a single candidate has boosted Sarksyan’s chances”, and predicting, that upon election “Sarksyan will have to deal with the so-called “frozen” conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh”.
The “Nagorno-Karabakh” perspective is also covered by Agence France-Presse, which also indicates, that Serzh Sarkisian, seen as the fruntrunner, is likely to follow in Kocharian’s footsteps if elected — pursuing close ties with Moscow and maintaining a hawkish stance in relations with neighbouring Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Photos: Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
Armenia Election Monitor 2008 brings the first photos of the election day – “Finally the day has arrived”, writes Onnik Krikoryan with relief, “Whatever the outcome one thing is certain. In this round or a possible second, Armenia will elect a new president in a vote that international observers hope will represent a marked improvement over the last presidential election in 2003.”
2 million 328 thousand 320 voters are eligable to vote for the new president of the country, Athanatoi (Hrant) writes in his blog, reminding that 8000 police officers are on duty today to ensure security of the polls. The initial results of the Armenian presidential elections will be known by 6:00 AM on February 20th.
“Ah yes, today is the day where corruption, blind nationalism, and fraud all come together in the form of Armenia’s Presidential Election!” Rhyne of Armenia blog writes from US. “One thing’s for certain, this is not going to be a demonstration of democracy and whoever is elected will first and foremost get himself rich, then those near him, and whatever is left will be spread among the lower individuals in power”.
Within the past 3-4 days all the more or less influential government officials have made statements about their determination to punish electoral violations. Today it was Aghvan Hovsepyan, the general prosecutor of Armenia, saying “no person having made electoral infringement will be left without liability“. President Kocharyan made a statement about being prepared to punish violators the other day. Interestingly, opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian has been promising to punish those interfering and creating obstacles to his campaign much earlier then anyone. In the mean time, there are already reports of electoral bribes being handed out in Vanadzor.
Since the claims are, that the bribes are handed out by supporters of Serzh Sargsyan, whom President Kocharyan is endorsing as his successor, and as Aghvan Hovsepyan is clearly dependent on Serzh Sargsyan, candidate, prime minister and head of parliamentary majority, which decides on how much budget the Prosecutor’s office should get, I wonder who will investigate the matter and punish those violators anyway? Sargsyan, Kocharian, Hovsepyan, Ter-Petrossian or somebody else?
PS: I always thought it should have been the job of regular citizens to reject bribes, report them to police… …and I always dreamed, that one day the Armenia police would be independent and just enough to take necessary action without the need for high flown words from President, Prosecutor or anybody else.