On May 15, the European Union issued its annual package assessing its relations with its neighbouring countries in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The package was introduced to journalists by High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Catherine Ashton and by Enlargement and ENP Commissioner Stefan Fule.
In the documents, the EU sends a clear and unequivocal message to the three South Caucasus countries to make improvements on a number of issues related to elections and the broader aspects of democracy and human rights. Whilst recognising that some progress has been made, particularly in Armenia and Georgia the reports highlight serious shortcomings in all three countries. More…
Armenian Parliamentary Elections
6 May 2012 – Results
Number of voters: 1,573,053
Number of voters on the voting list (including those registered on polling day): 2,523,101
Percentage of voter turnout: 62.26%
Number of blank or invalid votes: 53,831
Results (Proportional Lists Elections) :
Republican Party: 664,440 (44.02%)
Prosperous Armenia: 454,673 (30.12%)
ANC: 106,903 (7.08%)
ARF: 85,550 (5.67%)
Rule of Law: 83,123 (5.51%)
Heritage: 86,998 (5.76%)
Armenian Communist Party: 15,899 (1.5%)
Democratic Party of Armenia: 5,577 (0.37%)
United Armenians Party: 2,945 (0.20%) More…
A rally of the Dashnak Armenian Revolutionary federation in Yerevan on 10 April 2012 (picture courtesy of http://www.arfd.info).
It is not possible to say that there has been a level playing field in the Armenian Parliamentary Elections Campaign of the past weeks. Some parties could make use of administrative resources, and others of financial resources not available to their competitors. But an active media, and the ability to use time on television for all parties, enabled all contestants to put across their message to the electorate.
The media in the elections divided into three streams. The printed media has close association with the political parties and in many cases this was reflected in its coverage of the elections. New media: websites and news portals provided a broad spectrum of opinion and were perhaps the most free and active in the campaign. Some web-based media outlets had television programmes included on their sites which complimented the coverage of the regular TV stations. These sites however have limited audiences.
As usual the most important role was played by television stations. Though largely controlled by government, the stations by and large followed guidelines for balanced reporting once the election campaign started. The fact that all parties had free air time, and also the possibility of purchasing a certain amount of paid air time, helped a lot in enabling the message of all parties to get across to the electorate.
All the major parties held rallies in the centre of Yerevan, and in other parts of the countries. These events were usually well attended and often accompanied by musical entertainment. The campaign nearly ended in tragedy when in the last hours of campaigning on May 4th an incident occurred at the final rally of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia. Balloons that had been filled with helium exploded throwing a ball of fire on the largely young crowd. Several dozen people suffered severe burns although miraculously no one died, and most of those injured were released from hospitals a few days later.
There were some small incidents of violence but on the whole the campaign was peaceful. The tone was not always positive and there were some personal attacks on candidates and politicians.
Armenia’s president Serzh Sargsyan led from the front. He participated in numerous activities of his Republican Party (RPA) addressing voters on a range of domestic and local issues. The role of local governors and district administrations remains controversial. Many have been accused of supporting the ruling party not only through the use of administrative resources but also through intimidation of voters.
The full engagement of all the main political forces in the election campaign has helped give credibility to the election process and is definitely a positive factor.
photo: Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of ODIHR, observes voting in a polling station in the village of Balahovit during Armenia’s parliamentary elections, 6 May 2012. His presence as part of the mission was somewhat unusual. (picture courtesy of OSCE).
Most of the international observers who monitored the 6 May Parliamentary elections in Armenia decided in their preliminary findings to focus on the bright side of the process, although the more serious ones also highlighted serious problems and shortcomings.
Their reports paint a confused picture which reflects a flawed, but improved electoral process, and which has resulted in the government tightening its hold on parliament but with all opposition parties of any significance now represented in the legislature.
Iconic Armenian monument in Nagorno-Karabakh
Four candidates have submitted their nomination for the office of President in the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic where elections are scheduled for 19 July 2012.
Apart from the incumbent President, Bako S. Sahakyan , the other three candidates are Vitaly M. Balasanyan, a member of the National Assembly of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic; Arkady I. Soghomonyan, Deputy Dean of the Stepanakert Branch of the Armenian State Agrarian University and Valery S. Khachatryan, currently unemployed.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory that has declared itself independent but is generally recognised in the international community as being part of Azerbaijan. The territory is now mainly populated by Armenians. The Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh was displaced by the conflict in the period 1989-94 and will not be voting in the elections. The Azerbaijani Government has condemned the holding of the elections.