Yesterday the Central Electoral Commission of Armenia finished summing up the voting results in Sunday’s snap municipal election for the city of Yerevan Council of Elders. (Council). Although it is called the preliminary report, it is considered to be fairly accurate. (The official count will be announced in 10 days).
There were 12 Political Parties (Party) and Tashinks (Block) and …. 996 candidates! for the 65 seat Council. (I do not understand the logic for a participating Party, or Block, to have more than 65 candidates on its list. But, all of them did, and most of them had more than 100 candidates, the highest being … 195?.
My Step Bloc (actively supported by prime minister Nikol Pashonyan) has won an unprecedented landslide victory with 81.06% of the votes (294,109 votes) and will have 57 Council seats
The Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) came in a distant second place with 6.95% of the votes (25,219 votes) and will have 5 Council seats.
Luys (Light) bloc came third with 4.99% of the votes (18,112 votes) and will have 3 Council seats.
No other Party crossed the threshold of the required minimum percentage of the votes to be presented in the Council. (ARF /TASHNAGTSUTYUN came fourth with 1.62% of the votes (5882 votes) while Yerkir Tsirany Party came fifth with 1.39% of the votes (5059 votes). The other seven participating Parties, and Blocks, each received less than 1% of the votes.
Hayk Marutyan who led the list of the My Step Bloc will become the Mayor of Yerevan and is expected to assume office on October 10.
The election campaign lasted 12 days. All participating Parties and Blocks started their campaign with big public rallies and continued through smaller-scale public rallies in each of the 12 electoral districts. There were no mayoral candidate debates and hardly any major conflicting proposals or policies.
The main issues were the improvements in the garbage collection, public transportation, traffic control, social housing, expanding nursery schools spaces, creation of more public parks, etc. Needless to this is the “norm” in most municipal election campaigns.
Here I cannot resist the temptation to highlight the following that does not seem to conform to the “norms”.
PAP started its campaign with a day “flashy” conference called “Stable and Comfortable Cities conference”. It was held at one of the PAP Party Leader business tycoons Gakig Dsarukyan’s luxurious casinos. It was attended by … 38 foreign country Mayors who mostly paid tribute to the “Leader” Mr. Tsarukyan. (I wonder if the “Leader” who most probably paid all the transportation, accommodation, and “other” expenses, could claim it to be a legitimate election campaign contribution?).
Here is also how the “Leader” was introduced as “our Cesar, our power, our love, our ideals” at the first PAP campaign rally in front of the church that the benevolent “Cesar” built with his own money. Խոսքը տալով կուսակցության առաջնորին՝ Մելիքսեթյանն ասաց․ – «Մեր մեջքում, մեր թիկունքին մեր Կեսարն է, առջևում մեր հաղթանակներն են: Մեր Կեսարը, մեր ուժը, մեր սերը, մեր գաղափարները՝ Գագիկ Ծառուկյան»:
And here is what in part the “Cesar” said at the rally «Մենք գործի մարդ ենք: Եթե մեզ վստահեցին, ուրեմն իմացեք՝ անմիջապես, հենց երկրորդ օրը այդ ծրագրերը սկսելու են գործել: Կապ չունի՝ բյուջեում գումար կա, գումարը արդեն ծախսել են․․․ այլ համապատասխան ես կդնեմ այդ գումարները մինչև մյուս տարի,»: In loose translation it reads. “We are business people. If elected, immediately even the next day our programs will start working. It is irrelevant if there is money in the budget, already they have spent it…I will give the necessary money for one year”. Fortunately, the voters responded with a decisive NO thank you.
This election (although conducted according to the old electoral laws and regulations), apart from being the first free, fair, and transparent, election in Armenia, it also enhanced the credibility of the young generation that through peaceful street demonstrations forced the resignation of the corrupt oligarchic regime of “strong man” President/Prime Minster Serj Sargsyan, and brought to power Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government.
This election also set the stage for a much-needed snap Parliamentary elections. Now is the time for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the leadership of My Step Block to find a way to call for a snap Parliamentary elections as soon as possible.
The electoral and constitutional reforms that Pashinyan has promised could come after winning the election and getting a mandate from the PEOPLE.
(In my previous Monologues I had written about the necessity of the electoral and constitutional reforms for the parliamentary elections. Specially reforms where the electorate, the PEOPLE, could elect their representatives that reside in their electoral districts and are accountable mainly to them rather than being the “elected” cronies of the Party “bosses” who appoints them to the Party list).
Yes it can happen, it must happen, and I am hopeful and confident, that, it will happen.
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian