The opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) challenged the legitimacy of Sunday’s parliamentary elections on Tuesday, saying that their outcome was essentially decided by “unprecedented” vote buying.
“Unfortunately, the elections did not reflect the will of the people and the real correlation of political forces,” the party’s governing body in Armenia said in a statement. “It became obvious that widespread violations were planned and took place outside polling stations on May 6 and in previous days.”
“That vote bribes had a decisive impact on the election results is an irrefutable fact,” charged the opposition party, clearly pointing the finger at President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK).
HHK representatives have already denied opposition allegations of vote buying and other falsifications, saying that the ruling party prevailed in a fair contest.
“Vote buying was the most important factor this time,” insisted Armen Rustamian, Dashnaktsutyun leader.
Rustamian also accused the authorities of manipulating Armenia’s notoriously inaccurate voter lists to ensure multiple voting by bribed citizens and government loyalists. “We did register a handful of such cases, but we don’t have the mechanisms to be able to prove their being widespread,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“The situation on election day was such that it would take a whole state apparatus to detect those vote falsifications,” he said.
Official vote results showed Dashnaktsutyun winning less than 6 percent of the vote, significantly less than in the last parliamentary elections held in 2007. The party will have five or six deputies in the new Armenian parliament, compared with 16 seats it held in the last National Assembly.
Rustamian said that despite not considering the vote free and fair Dashnaktsutyun will not challenge its official results in court. “If we appeal, the accusation must also be addressed to those who took vote bribes because this distortion of the vote was mainly caused by the scale of vote buying,” he explained. “We would have to seek punishment for a considerable part of my people. This is what makes our job difficult.”
Rustamian also made clear that Dashnaktsutyun will not stage street protests. “I find that meaningless and not expedient,” he said, adding that his party stands for “regime change without upheavals.”