Despite irregularities reported by international observers, the official results of Armenia’s parliamentary elections, which gave victory to the ruling Republican Party (HHK), reflect “the overall will of the Armenian people”, the European Union said late on Monday.
A spokesperson for Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said that the EU will work closely with Armenia’s “democratically elected new Parliament and Government.”
In a statement, the official cited European observers’ preliminary conclusion that Sunday’s elections were marred by “credible information about vote-buying” and voter intimidation even though “fundamental freedoms were generally respected.”
“The election result nevertheless reflects the overall will of the Armenian people,” added the statement.
The statement insisted that electronic equipment installed in polling stations across the country prevented other, more serious irregularities. “Despite some minor technical problems, fewer irregularities concerning ballot box stuffing, double voting, counting and tabulation of results were recorded by observers,” it said.
Earlier this year, the EU provided the Armenian authorities with more than $7 million for the purchase of voter authentication devices and web cameras that recorded and broadcast through the Internet voting and ballot counting from the vast majority of polling stations.
There were serious problems with the online livestreaming during the first few hours of voting. Armenian officials attributed the disruptions to technical problems. Opposition politicians suspect political reasons for that, however.
The official EU reaction to the elections is a significant boost to the international legitimacy of the elections and the Armenian government. Most of the Armenian opposition election contenders have said that the ballot was not democratic because the ruling HHK won it through vote buying and abuse of its administrative resources. HHK representatives have brushed aside the opposition claims.
The EU statement also made clear that the 28-nation bloc will press ahead with the signing of a new agreement to deepen its political and economic ties with Armenia. The agreement was initialed in Yerevan two weeks before the elections.
“Once the electoral process has been completed, we look forward to working with the democratically elected new Parliament and Government to strengthen our political dialogue and continue our support to economic and social reform, including on the basis of the recently initialed EU–Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA),” said the statement.
President Sarkisian said last week that the CEPA will likely be signed at the EU’s next Eastern Partnership summit due in November. He claimed that his administration is committed to “building a European model of democracy” in Armenia.
The CEPA will be a less ambitious substitute for an Association Agreement negotiated by Armenian and EU officials in the summer of 2013. Sarkisian scuttled that deal with his unexpected decision in September 2013 to make Armenia part of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). The U-turn was widely attributed to strong Russian pressure.