By Shakeh AvoyanThe Armenian Communist Party (HKK), which will have no parliament deputies for the first time since Armenia’s independence, blamed on Friday its electoral defeat on “mass falsifications” allegedly committed by the authorities.
According to the preliminary results of the May 25 elections announced by the Central Election Commission (CEC), the Communists polled only 2.5 percent of the vote, their worst-ever performance. Under Armenian law, they needed at least 5 percent support to win parliament seats on the party list basis.
The HKK first secretary, Vladimir Darpinian, and other party leaders claimed that the elections were not free or fair because of widespread ballot box stuffing. They also accused the authorities of inflating the number of votes given to the three largest parties supporting President Robert Kocharian.
“According to our calculations, we did pass the 5 percent threshold,” said Sanatruk Sahakian, the HKK’s second secretary.
The Communists, who favor a return to state control of the economy and closer ties with Russia, won an average of 10 percent of votes in the previous Armenian elections, drawing their support mainly from elderly people nostalgic about the Soviet past. They have been seriously weakened in recent years by a series of rifts and internal revolts.
The most recent scandal took place in the run-up to Sunday’s elections when several prominent Communists accused Darpinian of secretly collaborating with the ruling regime, notably the powerful Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. The elderly HKK leader denied the charges and had the dissenters expelled from the party’s leadership.
The Communist protests against the official vote results follow even more serious fraud allegations voiced by Armenia’s biggest opposition group, the Artarutyun (Justice) alliance of Stepan Demirchian. Also crying foul were several pro-Kocharian parties that fared poorly in the vote.