The opposition Yelk alliance, which finished third in the Armenian parliamentary elections, accused the authorities of large-scale vote buying but essentially accepted the official vote results on Tuesday.
In a statement, it said the vote tally released by the Central Election Commission (CEC) was “on the whole formed as a result of voting by the citizens who took part in the elections.” It also said no votes for Yelk were stolen or miscounted by election officials.
According to the CEC, the bloc won about 8 percent of the vote and will have 9 seats in Armenia’s new parliament that will be controlled by the ruling Republican Party (HHK). The National Assembly will comprise at least 101 deputies.
Apparently pointing the finger at the HHK, the Yelk statement charged that voters across the country came under “illegal financial and administrative pressures” during the election campaign and on polling day. Many of them accepted the vote bribes, it claimed.
“Tens of thousands of citizens were involved in the chain of vote bribe distribution and acceptance and there is an atmosphere of public tolerance towards that phenomenon, which is a time bomb planted under Armenian statehood,” added the statement. Armenian law-enforcement authorities did nothing to end the illegal practice, it said.
“Money is Armenia’s most popular politician,” Nikol Pashinian, one of Yelk’s leaders, wrote on his Facebook page.
Virtually all other opposition parties and blocs that ran for the parliament have also said that the election outcome was primarily decided by vote buying. The HHK and its individual candidates, most of them wealthy businesspeople, have denied handing out cash to voters.
“Irregularities were widespread and they were mainly committed outside polling stations,” said Anzhela Khachatrian, the deputy chairperson of another opposition party, the Free Democrats. “That included a relentless use of administrative resources and, most importantly, vote bribes.”
The CEC figures show the Free Democrats garnering less than 1 percent of the vote. Two other opposition blocs, ORO and the Congress-HZhK, also fared poorly and will not be represented in the new parliament.
ORO said on Tuesday that it suspects that multiple voting by government loyalists also affected the vote results. It demanded that the CEC compare all fingerprints that were collected by voter authentication devices on election day.
“Since there is no integrated [national] database of fingerprints … we demand a comparative examination of them so that we see how many people voted more than once,” the ORO spokeswoman, Aregnaz Manukian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The electronic devices were installed in all polling stations with the aim of preventing multiple voting. The CEC did not immediately respond to the ORO demand.
A CEC spokeswoman, Hermine Harutiunian, said that none of the election contenders has demanded the scrapping of official vote results in any electoral precincts. Only four individual election candidates sought recounts in twelve precincts. The CEC rejected all of those demands, she said.