Analysis: what are the implications of Pashinyan's victory in the snap parliamentary elections?
As per the preliminary results, acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party won in the snap parliamentary elections in Armenia by a wide margin obtaining 53.92% of votes, Central Election Commission has announced.
The second place was occupied by the bloc of ex-president Robert Kocharian Armenia which has obtained a total of 21.04%.
The third force entering the parliament is the I Have the Honor bloc, which consists of the parties of the former head of the National Security Service, Artur Vanetsyan, and the ex-president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan. The bloc has only gained only 5.23% which is less than the required passing threshold of 7%, however, the bloc will still be able to enter the National Assembly as the country’s third political force.
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On the evening of June 20, when less than half of the votes were counted, Nikol Pashinyan at the headquarters of his party already announced the victory of his party and referred to it as another revolution – the second in three years. The first took place under his leadership in 2018, and the second during the 2021 elections.
Pashinyan stressed that both revolutions are democratic and non-violent, but if the first was “velvet”, then the second was “steel”. Now, according to him, there will be no leniency to those who “robbed the country and profited while hundreds of thousands of people became poor and were forced to leave”.
Pashinyan’s statement is explained by the fact that his supporters often criticized the “revolutionary” government for not being tough on the “former” one.
At the same time, the bloc of ex-President Robert Kocharian stated that the election results appear to be controversial. In this regard, the Hayastan bloc is not going to recognize them yet.
A total of 1,282, 411 people (49.4%) took part in the voting and 4,682 ballots were declared invalid. The CEC will publish the final results on the seventh day after the elections.
Having always been active on social media, Nikol Pashinyan first made a post on Facebook, where he announced that his Civil Contract party had won a majority and would form a government.
At night, when the CEC was still counting votes, Nikol Pashinyan spoke at the headquarters of his party and invited voters to the Republic Square on June 21 to “celebrate the victory”.
On Twitter, he posted that his party will have at least 71 mandates in the new parliament.
The CEC has not yet announced how 105 mandates will be distributed in the new parliament, but some Armenian media have published their calculations. There is an assumption that the Civil Contract will receive 72 mandates, the Hayastan bloc – 27 mandates, and I Have The Honor block – 6 mandates.
Reaction of ex-President Kocharian’s bloc
The main rival of Nikol Pashinyan’s party in these elections was the Armenia bloc, headed by ex-president Robert Kocharian. In a fairly short period, according to opinion polls, the former president managed to equalize the ratings of the two forces.
Nevertheless, Pashinyan’s party managed to gain twice as many votes in the elections and the Hayastan bloc issued a statement saying that the voting results seem controversial and not credible:
“The crowded rallies of the opposition forces and the obvious small number of events by the authorities, the crisis of confidence in the country speak of completely different sentiments. The most serious reason for the lack of trust is the hundreds of signals from the polling stations, indicating organized and planned fraud”.
Accordingly, the representatives of the bloc intend to assess the alleged and already recorded violations, however, for the time being they are going to recognize the voting results.
Local observers believe that the voting process went smoothly, in a peaceful atmosphere, without massive and gross violations.
However, Sona Ayvazyan, Executive Director of the Anti-Corruption Center of Transparency International, said at a press conference of the Akanates observation mission:
“There was some tension in a number of polling stations, this tension, as a rule, was due to the presence of outsiders who tried to direct and control the voting. […] The lion’s share of the listed electoral violations falls on the Hayastan bloc”.
At the same time, Sona Ayvazyan stressed that violations were recorded both by the winner of the elections – the Civil Contract party, and the third force that entered the parliament – the I Have Honor bloc.
International observers stated after the elections that there were shortcomings, but they were not systemic.
The head of the CIS observation mission, Ilkhom Nematov, noted that the observed violations could not affect the results of the elections.
This observation mission consisted of 96 people and visited 700 polling stations. According to its head, it consisted of experienced experts from the CIS countries, the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly and the CSTO Interparliamentary Assembly.
Political scientist, orientalist Sergei Melkonyan in his telegram channel tried to answer two questions – “What happened and what to do?”
“Yesterday, Turkey and Azerbaijan won the elections in Armenia. This is the second November 10 for the Armenian state.
Organized by the capitulator [meaning Nikol Pashinyan, who signed a document on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh in the fall of 2020], a part of the people chose the following path: to close the Artsakh issue, completely yielding to it; hand over enclaves and strategic communications; connect Turkey and Azerbaijan through its territory by surrendering part of Syunik [southern region of Armenia] under a corridor [to connect Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhichevan].
But this is not as important to you, not nearly as important as allowing Kocharyan to win, right? Which Artsakh, which sovereignty? Kocharyan is clearly worse than the loss of statehood.
What to do?
- Wait for the next crisis, because it will emerge very soon with this incompetent leadership. People will see that it is getting worse, not better and part of them will realize their mistake. In order for them to understand this, we need to work with them.
- To prepare the future elite. Remove the old politicians from the forefront and put their own young bench in the vanguard.
- In the long term: wait for the generation change and work with it.
As an experienced colleague told me yesterday, ruin the holiday for them, not allowing them to realize another surrender, which in January Nichol promised to sign after his re-election”.