The leader of a coalition of Europe’s leading conservative parties has reportedly congratulated the governing Republican Party of Armenian (HHK) on its landslide victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections and called the vote largely democratic.
In a letter to Sarkisian released by the HHK on Thursday, Wilfried Martens, president of the European People’s Party (EPP), welcomed the HHK’s performance as an “excellent success.”
“Furthermore, the parliamentary elections held in the Republic of Armenia on May 6, 2012 were deemed mainly free and fair,” Martens was reported to say. “On this occasion I would like to send you my sincere congratulations,” added the former Belgian prime minister.
“This does not mean that there is no room to improve democratic processes in the Republic of Armenia because there were some problems on election day related to the application of new [electoral] rules,” Martens said, urging the Armenian authorities to “continue to try to improve the electoral process.”
Martens already voiced strong support for Sarkisian’s party and predicted its victory in the elections in a video address to an HHK convention in Yerevan last March. “Long live the Republican Party,” he declared at the time.
The emphatic address came a month after the EPP granted an observer status to the HHK and two other Armenian parties, one of them in opposition to the government. The EPP chief linked that development with Sarkisian’s pledge to make the May 6 polls “exemplary.” “We bet that this commitment will be fulfilled,” he said in March.
In their preliminary report released on Monday, Western election observers declined to say whether the vote was held in conformity with democratic standards. They praised the pre-election environment in Armenia but said there were irregularities in a “significant number” of polling stations during voting.