By Shakeh Avoyan
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK) maintained its control of three administrative districts in Yerevan after its candidates cruised to landslide victories in elections held there on Sunday.
The incumbent chief executives of the Malatia-Sebastia, Nork-Marash and Davitashen districts affiliated with the HHK faced little opposition as they won another three-year terms in office.
Officials from the municipal election commission said the polls proceeded without violent incidents and they have received no reports of major vote irregularities from any of the candidates. “There have been no written complaints,” the commission’s chairwoman, Anna Aleksanian, told RFE/RL. “As for the verbal complaints, we immediately dealt with them. So no serious incidents were registered.”
Of all three Republican candidates the head of the Nork-Marash administration, Varazdat Mkrtchian, faced the strongest challenge. Still, he managed to hold it off by grabbing 77 percent of the vote. His main challenger representing the opposition People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) had only 22 percent.
In Malatia-Sebastia, the incumbent governor Aghvan Grigorian polled more than 81 percent of the vote as he convincingly defeated a candidate of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), another pro-government party.
Voting turned into a mere formality in the Davitashen district in west Yerevan whose Republican chief, Suren Ghukasian, ran unopposed and could hardly fail to win.
Sunday’s elections highlighted the HHK’s grip on many local self-government bodies, which will be crucial in the lead-up to and during the presidential and parliamentary elections of next year. The party, which is far from being the most popular in Armenia, appears to have capitalized on its substantial financial resources, widespread voter apathy and the weakness of its political opponents.
Elections in the overwhelming majority of local communities are due to take place in October.