The Constitutional Court upheld on Thursday the official results of Armenia’s recent parliamentary elections, rejecting an appeal lodged by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).
In a lengthy verdict read out by its chairman, Gagik Harutiunian, the court ruled that the Central Election Commission (CEC) had all the “objective legal prerequisites” to declare President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) the winner of the May 6 polls. It said the HAK failed to prove the opposite.
In its appeal filed last week, the opposition alliance demanded that the vote be declared null and void because of what it called serious fraud that benefited the HHK. It alleged widespread vote buying, multiple voting in the HHK’s favor and misuse of government resources by the ruling party. HAK representatives specifically pointed to Sarkisian’s and other state officials’ active involvement in the campaign, saying that it resulted in an unequal playing field.
The Constitutional Court dismissed that claim, arguing that domestic and foreign observers praised the pre-election political environment in Armenia and, in particular, local broadcasters’ coverage of the parliamentary race. It also argued that the HAK did not formally complain about state officials’ involvement in the campaign in the run-up to the elections.
The panel of nine judges further pointed out that the CEC and lower-level election commissions received formal complaints concerning only a fraction of Armenia’s 2,000 or so polling stations. And there was little evidence of multiple voting alleged by the HAK and other opposition groups, it said.
HAK representatives admitted a lack of factual evidence when they made a case for the annulment of the election results at a Constitutional Court hearing last week. But they said it is evident that the Armenian authorities deliberately failed to prevent multiple voting by rejecting opposition demands for the lists of voters taking part in the elections to be published after the ballot.
The court upheld the legality of that rejection in a ruling handed down the day before the elections.
“This decision was totally predictable,” Levon Zurabian, an HAK leader, said of the latest ruling. “After all, that vote rigging was organized by the state, of which the Constitutional Court is a part.”
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Zurabian said the HAK decided to appeal to the court only to publicize “the whole truth about the elections” and pave the way for legal action at the European Court of Human Rights.
The CEC and the Armenian government maintain that the May 6 elections were free and fair.
Nearly 300 foreign observers mostly deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe gave a mixed assessment of the election conduct. In their preliminary findings made public on May 7, they praised the pre-election environment in the country but said there were irregularities in a “significant number” of polling stations on election day.