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Armenia’s ruling party takes hit in local votes

27 September 2022
A polling station in Sisian. OC Media.

Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract party have won majorities in just 8 of 17 municipalities where local council elections were being held, according to the preliminary results.

Over 119,000 people took part in the elections on Sunday, 50% of the number of eligible voters. 

The elections were held to elect the municipal councils in 17 newly reformed municipalities as well as one mayoral race under the old system; roughly 600 towns and villages have been consolidated into larger municipalities so far. A smaller number, including settlements with majority Yazidi populations, are still awaiting reorganisation.

In the Yazidi-inhabited village of Alagyaz in the Aragatsotn Province, independent candidate Makhmudov Jasm won. 

Voters in 48 municipalities went to the polls in October and December 2021, with Civil Contract winning majorities in 29 of 48 municipalities. The latest votes mean the ruling party now controls 37 of 66 municipalities. 

Supporters of several controversial opposition mayors triumphed in the votes on Sunday.

In Kajaran, in the southern Sunyik Province, incumbent Mayor Manvel Paramazyan’s bloc defeated the ruling party, with a turnout of 78%. Paramazyan is currently in pre-trial detention charged with bribery. 

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Some in the opposition, including the Reborn Armenia party and its leader Vahe Hakobyan, who are allied with former president Robert Kocharyan, have labelled his prosecution as being politically motivated. 

Supporters of Harutyun Manucharyan, the incumbent Mayor of Berd in the northeastern Tavush Province, also triumphed despite Manucharyan being in detention since November 2021 for alleged misuse of power. 

The village of Jrvezh in Kotayk Province saw the lowest turnout, just 27%, with only independent candidates facing the ruling party, who won. 

According to the preliminary results, the ruling party won a majority in the Sisian municipality, which was hit during recent attacks by Azerbaijani forces. 

Civil Contract also won in the Gulagarak and Lori Berd communities of Lori Province but lost in two other races in the region — in the Alaverdi and Tashir Municipalities. 

Civil Contract won in all three towns of the Aragatsotn Province where elections were held; a stronghold for the party. 

According to the Independent Observer election watchdog, over 70 violations of the Electoral Code were observed in 234 polling stations. 

Democracy watchdog Daniel Ioannisyan accused Civil Contract MP Karen Hambardzumyan of violating the law during the election in Sisian, by failing to obey police instructions to remove his car from the polling station and for gathering people around polling stations. 

Ioannisyan said Hambardzumyan had proved correct allegations that the ruling party was pressuring other candidates to remove their candidacies.