The January 10 parliamentary election in Yerevan exposed a glaring decline in the popularity of the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), the ruling Republican Party (HHK) claimed on Friday.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the chief HHK spokesman, argued that the opposition alliance failed to win the disputed vote despite its top leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s personal involvement in the election campaign. He also pointed to a very low voter turnout registered in an area where opposition forces have traditionally done well.
“The 20 percent turnout shows that the Armenian National Congress’s approval rating has declined all over Armenia, including the center of Yerevan, which is the country’s most politicized part,” Sharmazanov told journalists.
The HAK has put an optimistic spin on its candidate Nikol Pashinian defeat in the vote which it says was rigged in favor of a pro-government contender, Ara Simonian. One of the HAK leaders said earlier this week that the opposition performance was “astonishing” given the fact that Pashinian is in prison and what he called widespread vote buying, intimidation and violence perpetrated by the Simonian campaign.
Sharmazanov refused to comment on the fraud allegations on the grounds that the HHK did not contest the by-election. He dismissed opposition claims that the party led by President Serzh Sarkisian mobilized its “vote-rigging machine” to thwart Pashinian’s victory. “The Republican Party had no political interest there,” insisted Sharmazanov.
The HAK has specifically implicated the ruling party and Simonian in the beating late last month of more than a dozen young opposition activists that campaigned for Pashinian in the city center. The HHK denies any involvement, however. Nobody has been arrested in connection with the attack so far.