Parliamentary Elections in Armenia

Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) released the list of the Political Parties (Party) and their lists of candidates for the early parliamentary election scheduled on December 9.

There are 2 Alliances (Tashink), and 9 Parties registered to take part in the election. The two big absentees seem to be the Congress Party headed by the first President of Armenia, Levon Ter Petrosyan, and the Heritage Party headed by the first foreign minister of Armenia, Raffi Hovannisian.

This election will be run according to the old antiquated electoral rules and regulations that were “approved” by a rigged constitutional referendum to guarantee the crowning of the “strong man” President turned Prime Minster Serg Sargsyan and his corrupt oligarchic Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).

The new government headed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian introduce a set of new, fairer, and simpler electoral laws that were defeated in the current parliament by 1 vote. (The passage required 63 votes (2/3) and got 62 votes).

All 6 Parties that have members in the current parliament are running again. (The YELK Alliance which was an Alliance of three Parties is dissolved and each Party is participating independently.

YELK member Social Contract Party headed by Prime minster Nikol Pashinyan is running as My Step Tashink and their list of candidates includes most, if not all, the leadership of the Velvet Revolution. They are young, well educated, and many of them have degrees from western universities, especially from Western Europe, and United States

The popularity of My Step and its leader Nikol Pashinyan is so high that the question is not whether they will win, rather, will they be able to win a sizable majority that will enable them to initiate the major constitutional reforms that they promise to do?. I am hopeful and optimistic that they will be able to do so.

The other member of the  YELK,  Bright Armenia, headed by Edmond Marukyan is running as a single Party and has an impressive list of candidates including Mane Tandilyan the current social affairs minster who proved to be a well-principled lady that had some policy disagreements with Nikol Pashinyan and stood her ground and won.

I think Bright Armenia will be able to clear the 6% threshold and be in the new Parliament and become a constructive vocal opponent to Nikol Pashinyan and his government.

The third member of YELK, the Republic Party, headed by Aram Sargsyan together with another Party is running as MENK Tashink and I do not think they have any chance to clear the 7% threshold and get into the New Parliament. Here, the unfortunate “casualty” will be Artak Zenyalyan who is an Artsakh war veteran and current Minster of Justice.

The Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP), headed by Tycoon Gagik Tsarukyan, through his wealth, name recognition, and philanthropy, will be able to hold the second place that he had in the current parliament and thus become the opposition party in the new Parliament.

Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) the “all-powerful” and corrupt oligarchic Party that had absolute political power in Armenia during the past over 20 years is so discredited that I do not think they have any chance for a come back even as a marginal force.

ARF/TASHNAGTSUTYUN  as the “junior partner” in both President Robert Kocharyan’s and  President Serg Sargsyan’s governments, does not stand a chance either to clear the 6% threshold to get into the parliament.

The candidates on the ARF Party list are headed by the heavyweight of the Party leadership that has been in control of the Party during the past over 20 years. They reluctantly supported the Velvet Revolution after it succeeded to topple their “senior” partner Serg Sarksyan government.

But let us not forget that, yet again, they switched sides and conspired with RPA to defeat the electoral reform bill.  Two ARF MPs did not attend the parliamentary session that voted to defeat the new, fairer, and simplified electoral amendments by 1 vote. I think their unprincipled political flip-flopping will hurt their chances to win votes.

The other 5 Parties that are registered to participate in the election do not stand a chance to get elected. At best, they could articulate some of the current political and socioeconomic issues during the campaign and force My Step leadership to react to them and thus making the campaign more interesting.

Among these 5 Parties may be Sasna Dsrer Party has the best chance mainly through their name recognition due to their armed occupation of a Police station in Yerevan about 2 years ago. They are also known for their anti-Russian politics and their uncompromising stand on the Artsakh peace talks. These issues might help them win some votes from the nationalist electorate.

As for the electoral process itself, it is worth mentioning that after the recent municipal elections in Yerevan and the regions, Pashinyan’s government has proven beyond any doubt that they are capable of holding fair and transparent elections and I believe they will be able to do so again in this important election as well. Let me end this Monologue with a quote from Prime minister Nikol Pashinyan that says it all.

“For me, words about democracy are not a slogan but a political faith, for which we fought and the best place to confirm the values ​​of the revolution is at the polling stations.  It is also a guarantee that the people of Armenia will always know that by means of elections it is possible to change mayors, municipal councils, parliament, and the prime minister”. (My translation from the Armenian text).

Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian.

“The business, the economy should not be politicized, and that, I believe, stems from the interests of everyone.”


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