Pashinyan block wins landslide in Yerevan Council elections

24 September 2018
Candidate of Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutyan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (/Facebook)

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step bloc has won a landslide in Yerevan’s City Council elections, with their candidate, Hayk Marutyan, set to become the capital’s new mayor. According to preliminary results from the Central Elections Commission, the group won 81% of votes in Sunday’s snap election.

Marutyan, a popular former TV actor, comedian, and producer, vowed on election day to address the city’s waste management problems as his first priority if elected.  

Businessman Gagik Tsarukyan’s Prosperous Party party was a distant runner-up, with 7% of votes, followed by the Luys Alliance with 5%. After the preliminary results were announced, Tsarukyan and the Luys party congratulated the My Step bloc on their victory.

Tigran Mukuchyan, President of the Central Elections Commission, announced on Monday that the voter turnout was 44%.

According to the Electoral Code, the threshold for gaining seats on the council is 6% for parties and 8% for blocs. However, at least three parties must be represented on the council, even if they do not pass this threshold.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), as well as eight other political parties and blocs failed to garner enough votes to gain seats on the council, receiving less that 2% each.

The incumbent Republican Party, which won 46 out of 65 seats in 2017 elections,  did not participate in the elections. In July, Republican Mayor Taron Margaryan resigned after FACT TV, an anti-corruption channel, released a video revealing his supposed wealth. The video was produced by Aren Mkrtchyan, an advisor to Pashinyan.

After Margaryan resigned and the Council failed to elect a new mayor, Pashinyan dissolved the Council on 16 August.

The election was the first since Pashinyan came to power on the back of a popular protest movement to ‘reject Serzh’ — two-time Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan and leader of Republican Party, who was sworn in as a Prime Minister in April.

The protest movement led by Pashinyan forced Sargsyan resign in early May.

Pashinyan and Marutyan actively rallied for a higher voter turnout. On Sunday, Pashinyan, on his way to New York, urged residents of Yerevan ‘not to stay at home’ and to go out to vote.

Later that day, during a meeting with the Armenian community in New York, Pashinyan announced that upon his return to Armenia he would start consultations with other parties, including those outside Armenia’s parliament, the National Assembly, to agree a date for snap parliamentary elections. Pashinyan said that the snap National Assembly elections were ‘unavoidable’ and should take place ‘as soon as possible’.

In September, the Armenian National Assembly, amended law to make bribing voters a criminal offense punishable by up to six years in prison.

First Vice Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan called the election results ‘a sort of vote of confidence on the achievements of the revolution’, characterising the election day as ‘free, just and democratic, without illegal interference’.

On Monday, Tigran Mukuchyan told Radio Azatutyun, RFE/RL’s Armenian service, that the 'atmosphere' at polling stations were ‘peaceful’.

The final results will be announced on 30 September.

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