By Artem Chernamorian in Gyumri
A candidate endorsed by the Republican Party (HHK) of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian won a repeat election to the Armenian parliament in the northwestern Shirak region Sunday, defeating rivals from two other parties making up the HHK-led coalition government.
According to the figures announced by the local election commission, Mkhitar Varagian won 45 percent of 20,504 votes cast in the single-mandate individual constituency. Varagian was followed by Hakob Matilian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) who got over 30 percent. A candidate from the Orinats Yerkir Party, Karapet Nersisian, came in third. Only 48 percent of the eligible voters took part in the election, the commission said.
Varagian had already been declared the winner of the local contest following the May 25 nationwide parliamentary elections. The victory was annulled by the Constitutional Court in Yerevan after fraud allegations made by his two main challengers.
The outcome of the repeat ballot comes as a further boost to the Republicans who already hold 40 of the 131 seats in the National Assembly. They also command the support of a large number of ostensibly independent deputies. It is not yet clear whether Varagian will formally join the HHK faction.
Orinats Yerkir and Dashnaktsutyun, which formed a coalition government with the HHK this month, have 22 and 11 parliament seats respectively.
Sunday’s voting proceeded without major incidents. The local election body received no written complaints from the defeated candidates as of Monday afternoon, its chairman, Bagrat Stepanian, told RFE/RL.
The candidates traded accusations of vote buying during the election campaign.