By Armen Dulian
A lawmaker allied with the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) held off an opposition challenge to retain his parliament mandate in a repeat election in a central Yerevan constituency on Sunday.
The local election commission said Vladimir Badalian swept to a landslide victory with over 5,400 votes. His main challenger, Shavarsh Kocharian of the opposition Artarutyun (Justice) bloc, garnered only 1,866 votes. Less than a fifth of eligible voters took part in the poll called after the Constitutional Court invalidated Badalian’s initial victory during the May 25 nationwide parliamentary elections.
Kocharian’s defeat appears to have been predetermined by the record-low voter turnout as many election-weary opposition supporters ignored the showdown. Kocharian, who is a leading member of Artarutyun, accused his rival of massive vote buying, but would not say whether he will again challenge the official results.
“The outcome was decided by bought votes because of the low turnout,” he told RFE/RL.
Badalian, however, insisted that his victory was fair and legitimate.
Despite his electoral defeat, Kocharian will remain a member of the Armenian parliament, having already secured a seat under the system of proportional representation. His victory would have simply allowed another candidate listed on Artarutyun’s proportional slate to enter the National Assembly.
The bloc currently holds only 16 of its 131 seats. The Republicans, by contrast, have 40 seats.