Opposition groups that have failed to win seats in Armenia’s new parliament on Monday condemned the authorities’ handling of the weekend elections but stopped short of calling for anti-government street protests.
Former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian’s ORO alliance, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Congress-HZhK bloc and former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian Armenian Revival party fell short of the legal vote thresholds for being represented in the National Assembly. ORO and the Congress-HZhK fared particularly poorly, garnering 2 percent and 1.5 percent of the vote respectively, according to official results.
ORO, which is co-headed by Ohanian and opposition leaders Vartan Oskanian and Raffi Hovannisian, condemned the conduct of the elections in particularly strong terms. “This was not an election but vote trading and systematic falsifications organized by the authorities,” it charged in a statement.
“The election results do not reflect the real mood of our society and the interests of the people,” it said, rejecting as illegitimate the landslide victory of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “The authorities seem to be trying to reinforce a widely held popular belief that in Armenia it is impossible to achieve any change through elections,” added the statement.
Even so, the bloc did not urge its supporters to take to the streets and demand regime change. It said only that ORO will be “at the forefront of processes” which will lead to important changes in the country.
Ter-Petrosian, meanwhile, reacted to the elections in an article posted on Ilur.am. He said their outcome was not unexpected “in a country where the lion’s share of national wealth is legally or illegally concentrated in the hands of several dozen families and where the people are condemned to utter misery.”
Ter-Petrosian went on to hit out at the HHK and three other groups that will be represented in the new parliament. “We are left to see how the Republicans, Prosperous Armenia, Dashnaktsutyun and Yelk will be developing the economy with great leaps forward, ensuring the influx of billions of dollars investment, strengthening the army, stopping emigration and solving the main problem facing our people: the Karabakh conflict,” he said scathingly.
The Congress-HZhK focused on a compromise settlement of the conflict with Azerbaijan during its election campaign. Ter-Petrosian said that his bloc will keep campaigning for a Karabakh settlement and that this presently small “peace movement” will eventually expand.
Baghdasarian’s Armenian Revival, which polled less than 4 percent, also claimed that the election outcome was decided by vote buying and “large-scale use of administrative resources.” Still, the party congratulated all four groups that have won parliament seats and made clear that it will not join any post-election protests.
Armenia Revival, formerly called Orinats Yerkir, was represented in all four previous parliaments elected since 1999. It was part of President Serzh Sarkisian’s coalition government from 2008-2014.