In the third and final round of local elections held on Sunday, Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract party won in 24 of 36 municipalities — this vote, the third in a trio of local elections held, has involved the largest number of municipalities since 2016.
Commenting on the election results, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan took to Facebook with a post addressing his party’s landslide victory. Turnout among the roughly million eligible voters in the election was 42%.
‘It is obvious that our priorities are connected with external challenges. I must note that the quality of these local elections, where the citizen is lord and arbiter, is our future dream come true,’ Pashinyan wrote.
The lowest voter turnout, 0%, was found in two villages in the province of Gegharkunik after they collectively decided to boycott the elections in protest of the looming reorganisation of local governments that will integrate their villages into the Sevan municipality.
The local elections were held in parallel with the municipal amalgamation process which integrated villages into the municipal structure of nearby towns. The new changes decreased the number of municipalities in the country from over 500 to 79.
The municipal councils elected in the elections will vote to choose the mayor of the municipality who later will appoint the heads of each sub-municipality (e.g. amalgamated villages).
Despite winning most contests in this election, the ruling party still lost in several major cities, including Vanadzor — the country’s third-largest city — Abovyan, and Sevan.
In both Vanadzor and Sevan, the municipal slates that received the most votes are tied to Armenia’s pre-revolution ruling Republican Party. In Abovyan, the hometown of opposition Prosperous Armenia party head Gagik Tsarukyan, the Prosperous Armenia slate won with a resounding victory.
Local election observers reported a number of violations, including individuals bringing groups of voters to the polls and then instructing them who to cast a ballot for, however, this was ‘not systematic’.
After the series of the municipal election this autumn, the Civil Contract party has secured rule over most municipalities in the country. A key exception is the southern province of Syunik, where opposition figures had seized major electoral upsets.
Additionally, while the country’s ruling party lost the elections in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri, the party signed a memorandum with the winning Balasanyan Alliance slate, with Civil Contract candidates filling both deputy mayor spots.