Armenian voters are heading to polls today to elect the country’s seventh National Assembly in the first ever early parliamentary election since independence.All the 1,500 polling stations opened at 8:00am local time in the 13 constituencies across the country. Eleven political forces, including nine parties and two allainces, are running for election. It comes after Nikol Pashinyan stepped down as Prime Minister on October 16, citing the need to “bring to completion” the non-violent “Velvet Revolution” (which unseated the former government in April). The parliament dissolved on November 2 after a formal procedure of failing to elect a prime minister twice.
Under the amended Electoral Code, the minimum threshold for election to parliament is 5% for political parties and 7% – for alliances.
According to the updated offiicial voter register maintained by the Armenian Police, a total of 2,573,779 voters are registered in Armenia. Four out of the 13 constituencies are based in capital Yerevan.International observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the CIS Parliamentary Assembly and election observation mission, and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will join the 22 local NGOs to monitor the voting.
Saturday was declared a day of silence after twelve days of campaigning. The eleven political forces have nominated a total of 1,471 candidates.
The Republican Party‘s list is topped by Vigen Sasrgsyan, a former minister of Defense. The former governing party has 125 nominnees, with Arpine Hovhannisyan, a vice speaker of the National Assembly, and David Shahnazaryan, a political analyst, being the second and third candidates on the rating ballot.The social-democratic party Citizen’s Decision is represented by Suren Sahakyan as its leading figure.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun (ARF-D), the Republican’s former ally in the coalition government, has nominated 152 election runners, with Armen Rustamyan, the leader of the ARF-D faction in parliament, being its top candidate.
Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step bloc represents his Civil Contract party, as well as the political party Mission. The second and third candidates on their rating list are Vice Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Lena Nazaryan (the leader of the political faction YELQ in parliament).
The Bright Armenia party’s list is led by its chairman, Edmon Marukyan, currently a member of the National Assembly.
The political analyst Levon Shirinyan, who recently launched the Christian-Democratic Renaissance Party, is the number one candidate on that political team’s rating list.
The National Progress party’s list is topped by Lusine Haroyan, the only female leader in the current poltiical campaign.
The second political alliance, We, represents Khachatur Kokobelyan’s Free Democrats party and Aram Sargsyan’s Republic party (with a total of 144 candidates).
The Rule of Law party’s list is led by its chairman, Artur Baghdasaryan.
The pan-Armenian party Sasna Tsrer is running for election with such leading figures as Varuzhan Avetisyan, the political analyst Stepan Grigoryan and Garegin Chugaszyan.
Gagik Tsarukyan’s Prosperous Armenia party has joined the electoral campaign with a list of 175 candidates.