By Shakeh Avoyan and Hrach Melkumian
A small political party supporting President Robert Kocharian said on Thursday that it will appeal to the Constitutional Court against the official election results which prevented it from winning any seats in the Armenian parliament.
The Armenian Democratic Liberal Union (HZhAM), which narrowly failed to pass the five percent vote threshold for entering the parliament under the proportional representation system, accused rival pro-government and opposition parties of “deliberately miscounting” its votes. However, the party leaders, announcing the news, refused to name any names.
The HZhAM needed an extra 8,000 votes to clear the five percent barrier. It claims that as many as 28,000 ballots marked for the HZhAM were lost during the vote count and tabulation. Its chairman, Seyran Avagian, said the estimate is based on the results of recounts conducted in 42 polling stations across Armenia. He said his party will ask the Constitutional Court to order recounts in all of the country’s 1,885 electoral precincts.
Following the publication last week of preliminary vote results, which do not differ markedly from the Central Election Commission’s final tally, the HZhAM reportedly started talks with bigger pro-Kocharian parties on ways of increasing its percentage figure. It was reported at one point that the party will be allowed into the newly National Assembly.
Those claims prompted strong protests from the opposition Artarutyun (Justice) alliance that came in second in the party list voting. Avagian said Artarutyun’s objections may have played the decisive role in his party’s exclusion from the assembly.
The HZhAM mainly comprises those former members of the National Democratic Union (AZhM), a leading opposition party, who decided to cooperate with the Kocharian administration in 2001. They split from the AZhM after failing to oust its prominent leader, Vazgen Manukian. The HZhAM strongly supported Kocharian in this year’s presidential elections. Its participation in the ensued parliamentary elections is believed to have been sponsored by Harutiun Pambukian, a millionaire businessman with close ties to Kocharian.
The HZhAM is the second political group to announce plans appeal to the Constitutional Court. Artarutyun decided earlier this week to file a lawsuit demanding the annulment of the official election results. A leader of the bloc, Shavarsh Kocharian, admitted on Thursday that its chances of success are “almost zero.” He said the opposition wants to exhaust all possibilities of legal action inside Armenia and thereby pave the way for an appeal to the Strasbourg-based European Court for Human Rights.
Artarutyun intends to submit a single lawsuit challenging the outcomes of both the presidential and parliamentary elections.