A member of Armenia’s governing coalition and two leading opposition forces said on Friday that they will appeal to the Constitutional Court to strike down a legal provision they believe enables the authorities to rig the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) as well as the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) want the court to declare unconstitutional a clause in the Electoral Code that prohibits publication of the names of voters taking part in elections.
The Armenian opposition has maintained over the past year that publicizing those names is essential to prevent fraudulent voting in favor of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) in the May 6 polls. The HHK-led majority in the outgoing parliament has strongly resisted the passage of corresponding legal amendments on the grounds that they would breach the secrecy of ballots. Furthermore, it made sure last year that the Electoral Code explicitly bans election commission from releasing lists of those Armenians who cast ballots in an election.
“This is the only instrument with which these authorities can carry out falsifications with impunity as they have for many years,” the HAK’s Levon Zurabian said as he and senior BHK and Dashnaktsutyun representatives announced the unprecedented court action at a joint news conference.
“I hope that the Constitutional Court will make a reasonable decision because Armenia’s further development and future in general will depend on that decision,” the BHK’s Vartan Oskanian said for his part.
The two politicians stressed that the abolition of the Electoral Code clause was made even more urgent by the recent release of national voter registers which all three political forces consider grossly inflated.
According to Oskanian, the BHK has already detected “tens of thousands of inaccuracies” in those rolls. He claimed that those include names of bogus voters simultaneously registered at various electoral districts with slightly altered names.
“This was done deliberately,” charged Oskanian. “Clearly, somebody received an order from somebody else in order to do this.”
Zurabian similarly spoke of an “abnormally” large number of households with ten or more registered voters. He said HAK campaigners have also detected voters listed as residents of non-existent or abandoned apartments buildings in Yerevan.
“It is evident to us that the voter lists are thoroughly falsified and that the authorities are preparing large-scale irregularities,” Zurabian claimed.
Both men insisted that only the post-election publication of voter lists would enable election contenders and observers to verify the credibility of official vote results.
The Armenian authorities and HHK representatives have repeatedly denied voter list manipulation. President Sarkisian insisted earlier this month that there is no contradiction between recent years’ shrinkage of the country’s population and a sizable increase in the number of eligible voters shown by police data.
Under Armenian law, appeals to the Constitutional Court have to be signed by at least one-fifth of the 131 members of the National Assembly. The BHK and Dashnaktsutyun have more than enough seats in the outgoing parliament to meet this requirement.
Oskanian warned that the court will call into serious question the freedom and fairness of the elections if it refuses to meet the opposition demand. “If that is not done, based on these voter list inaccuracies, one can say that the elections already cannot be considered credible,” he said.