Yerevan Municipal Elections.

Two days ago on Sep. 3, Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission revealed the names of the Political Parties (Party) and Alliances (Tashink) that are running in the forthcoming snap municipal elections to elect the Mayor and Council Members. (Council)

Eight Parties and four Tashinks will participate in the elections which will take place on September 23 2018.

Missing in the list is the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) that had a 46 seat majority in the current 65 member Council that was “elected” by a rigged election in 2017. They are so discredited that they do not seem to have the courage to face the voters again. But, it will be naive to think that they will do so during coming Parliamentary elections as well.

The participation of large numbers of Parties and Tashinks seems to be a vote of confidence for the new government who promised to conduct a fair and transparent elections. Let us hope that this will be the first fair and transparent election since the establishment of the Republic of Armenia in 1991.

Here is what  Prime Minster Pashinyan said when the election date was announced about two weeks ago. “We hope all of us realize that these elections need to be exceptional, in terms of legitimacy, transparency, and justice. The ensuring of freedom, democracy, and legitimacy of elections is a priority issue to us. I, of course, am convinced that this will be so.”

Some of the Parties and Tashinks are new on the political scene, but there are long established Parties that are taking part in this election as well.

Yerkir Tsirani Party, headed by president of the Party,  Zaruhi Postanjyan (that currently have 5 members in the Council) is the only Party that is participating in this election as an incumbent.

The other incumbent Yelk Tashink (that had 14 members in the current council) has split in two. Civil contract Party is participating as My Step Tashink, headed by actor/producer Haik Marutyan. The other 2 members of Yelk Tashink, the Republic party, and Bright Armenia Party, are participating as Light Tashink, headed by current Minster of Justice, Artak Zeynalyan.

Here are some of the well established other Parties that are participating in this election.

Prosperous Armenia Party, headed by Vice president of the Party,  Naira Zbohrabyan,

Heritage Party, headed by Chairman of the Party,  Raffi Hovannisian.

ARF Party, headed by past member of the ARF Supreme Body, Mkayel Manukyan.

Orinats Yerkir Party, headed by Vice-chairman of the Party, Mher Shahgeldyan.

Yerevan Community Tashink, headed by the only independent candidate in this election, architect  Anahit Tarkhanyan.  

This election was triggered by the resignation of mayor Taron Margaryan on May 9. He came under pressure to step down after mass protests brought down Prime Minster  Serj Sargsyan and his government. Taron Margaryan was nothing more than a crony of Serj Sargsyan.

As an unqualified opinion I would say that comparing the number of Yerevan Council members with the Toronto’s municipal council members, it seems there is plenty room to reduce the numbers of Council members in Yerevan. (Toronto has a population of about 3 million people and has 45 council members, and Yerevan has a population of about 1 million people and 65 Council members!).

Apart from the typical municipal SERVICES of, water and electricity supply, garbage collections, transportation, local law enforcement, infrastructure updating, pollution, etc, there are also some social issues like homelessness, shortage of public housing, etc, that need to be addressed as well.

The above mentioned services, and issues, are hardly political issue to warrant partisan politics in municipal elections. But unfortunately, this election (that regrettably will be conducted by the old electoral commission and under the old electoral laws) seems to be nothing but partisan politics.

In this electoral system, people, the electorate, will vote for the Party and not the candidates as PEOPLE’s representatives. Needless to say, this is contrary to the spirit of the popular people’s revolution that perpetuated this election. This is also contrary to the “norm” for municipal elections in most of the democratic countries as well.

So far, no Party or Tashink has released any election platform. (Probably they are waiting for the official campaign to start on Sep.10). Let us hope that, the real issues and short comings that the city is facing, will be highlighted and various solutions presented.

This snap election will be also a real credibility test for the participating Parties, and Tashinks, and a forerunner for the parliamentary election to be held within one year.

Here is in part what I wrote in my previous Monologue dated Aug. 19 2018.

“Apart from conducting a fair and transparent election, this election will be also the litmus test for Nikol Pashinyan and his Civil Contract Party, and a harbinger for the future snap parliamentary elections.

Although it is up to Haik Marutyan to lead the list to victory, but win or lose, the credit or the blame will go to Pashinyan and his Social Contract Party.
Needless to say, Marutyan cannot afford to rely only on the popular support of Nikol Pashinyan. It will be a challenge for Marutyan to find a way to bring that massive popular support, specially the young generation’s support, from street, to the ballot box”.  A challenging task indeed”.
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian

 

 

 

 

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