Armenian PM party candidate named new mayor of Yerevan
The Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Armenia has reported that the My Step political bloc has won the Council of Elders of Yerevan election by a landslide.
The bloc, which is supported by the country’s PM Nikol Pashinyan, has garnered a whopping 81.05% of the vote which was held on 23 September. This means that its lead candidate, Hayk Marutyan, is automatically set to become the mayor of the Armenian capital without the need for the Council of Elders to vote.
Armenia’s electoral law has a provision stating that that the post of mayor of Yerevan go to the person leading the electoral list of a political force who secures at least 40 mandates/seats in a Council of Elders election.
Marutyan will assume office on 10 October.
Overall, My Step has bagged 54 seats in the Council of Elders. The only two other political forces which have made it into the council are oligarch Gagik Tsarukyan’s Prosperous Armenia party (with 6 seats) and the Luis bloc (4 seats).
The competitors have not questioned the election results. Both Gagik Tsarukyan of Prosperous Armenia and Artak Zeynalyan, the number one candidate for Luis, have personally congratulated Hayk Marutyan on his victory.
Nine organizations, one of them international, observed the election.
While they did report violations in the voting process, the overall number of complaints was a far cry from that filed during any of the previous elections.
Many social media users commended the order and transparency of the voting process.
“This is the fairest election in Armenia in many years.”
“An extraordinary election. For the first time in a long time, we’ve seen no cases of ballot box stuffing or vote buying.”
At the same time, many wondered why only 43.65% of the registered voters had cast their ballots, contrary to the broadly-shared expectation of a very high turnout for what had been hailed as the first election in the post-revolution, progressive Armenia.
However, political expert Alexander Iskandaryan was not surprised.
“First, the election was highly politicized,” he said. “It was a vote of confidence in the government, not your ordinary election of people entrusted with repairing roads and sidewalks and who made promises on the timely removal of garbage from the streets.
“Secondly, [no attempts had been made to inflate] the turnout. Nothing of the kind we could observe in the past when voters would be bussed to the polling stations and bribed. This couldn’t have failed to affect the turnout. And, most importantly, the election was not truly competitive. When there is no competition, people tend to turn out in smaller numbers.”
Another expert, Gagik Keryan, says that the small numbers compromise the new mayor.
“Less than 45 per cent of the voters have cast their ballots. This is a blow to the legitimacy of the mayor. It is a victory of the indifferent citizens who stayed at home, most of whom are young people.”