The Armenian Communist Party (HKK) blamed its poor showing in the recent parliamentary elections on fraud as it held a traditional May Day demonstration in Yerevan on Monday.
The HKK was again the only Armenian political group that rallied supporters to mark the public holiday officially called Labor Day. Hundreds of them marched through the city center, waving red flags and holding big banners. “Why did you steal our votes?” read one of the banners.
According to the official results of the April 2 elections, the HKK won only 12,000 votes, or less than 1 percent of the total number of ballots cast.
The party’s elderly leader, Tachat Sargsian, dismissed the official figure as fraudulent, arguing that the HKK has 20,000 registered members across the country. “Our capacity absolutely does not correspond to the number of votes attributed to us,” he told reporters during the rally.
Echoing statements by other opposition groups, Sargsian claimed at the same time that the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) won the elections primarily because of vote buying. “The people’s attitudes were surprising,” he complained. “They swapped one or two days’ worth of food expenses for the future of their children, grandchildren and nation.”
“But that did not demoralize us at all,” he went on. “On the contrary, as you can see, we have already started our campaign for the next elections in high spirits.”
“We are 100 percent sure that they stole our votes,” agreed one of the demonstrators.
Another participant claimed that ruling HHK distributed vote bribes in her neighborhood. “I said I’m a Communist and they didn’t give me 10,000 drams ($21), even though I’m a single old pensioner. [An HHK proxy] said, ‘If you are a Communist Party member, you won’t get any money.’”
The Communists were a major political force in Armenia in the 1990s, winning roughly 10 percent of the vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. However, their influence has since declined cosiderably. The HKK has not been represented in the Armenian parliament since 2003.