Armenia set to hold parliamentary elections

Opposition parties denounced electoral violations as Armenians voted in legislative polls today for the first time since the adoption of constitutional reforms transforming the ex-Soviet country into a parliamentary republic. Government critics believe that the reform was aiming to allow Sargsyan to keep his leading role after his term ends, this time as prime minister rather than president. They included former President Levon Ter-Petrosian's opposition Congress-HZhK alliance (1.6 percent) and the ORO alliance led by former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian (2.1 percent).

Read our pre-election analysis of the elections: Elections in Armenia: business as usual?

Based on preliminary results, four political parties and alliances, out of the nine vying for seats, garnered the needed percentages to enter the parliament and form the new 101-member legislature, a change from the previous 131-person body. The new parliament will be formed on the multi-party proportional basis, with no voting in one-seat constituencies.

Sarkisian declined to comment on his party's chances of winning the vote after casting his ballot in a polling station in the capital, Yerevan. Republicans and Dashnaktsutyun, coalition partners in the current parliament, could create a coalition again, getting the right to name the future prime minister, who is expected to be the incumbent Karen Karapetyan.

Both major parties support close ties with Russian Federation, the key ally in the frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict against Azerbaijan, which is backed by arch-rival Turkey.

European observers said yesterday (3 April) there was "credible information" that Armenia's parliamentary elections at the weekend were marred by "vote-buying" and pressure on voters.

Earlier on April 2, Sisak Gabrielian, a reporter for RFE/RL's Armenian service, was physically assaulted by a group of men, said to be affiliated with the ruling RPA.

The observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a statement on Monday that the vote was "well administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected".

The report said journalists had complained to monitors about "interference into editorial autonomy" and the "discouragement of critical reporting of the government on television". Many Armenians accuse the government of corruption and of mishandling the troubled economy.

  • Larry Hoffman