On April, 2nd, 2017, parliamentary elections were held in Armenia. The Republican Party of Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan won almost 50% of the votes, which marks the largest share. Four out of nine competing parties entered the parliament: Besides the Republican Party, the “Prosperous Armenia Alliance” (27%), the YELK alliance (7.78%) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (6.58%). Two liberal parties, however, including the Armenian National Congress, did not pass the 5% threshold. Although a new election law should improve technical features and transparency, the elections were partly overshadowed by manipulations.
The elections were the first ones after the constitutional referendum in 2015 that approved reforms for the country to become a parliamentary republic. Opposition forces are afraid the incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan might strive to enlarge his power with these reforms.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) sent an Election Observation Mission to Armenia. Reported incidents ranged from dysfunctional cameras and fingerprint scanners at the polling stations to buying of votes with money or even natural products, such as sacks of flour or seeds. Also, groups of men dressed in black stood in front of many polling stations, presumably to intimidate voters.
Nevertheless, experts state that the Armenian elections should not be compared to Western standards. Michael Georg Link, former Minister of State in the German Foreign Ministry and presently director of OSCE/ODIHR (based in Warsaw), classified the elections as a first step to restore confidence of the citizens in the electoral process and in politics in general.
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