The presidential and parliamentary elections held in Armenia during former President Serzh Sarkisian’s decade-long rule were not rigged, the chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Tigran Mukuchian, insisted on Tuesday.
Mukuchian made the claim as he presented the Armenian parliament with a CEC report on the conduct of the December 2018 general elections held eight months after Sarkisian was overthrown in the “velvet revolution.”
Addressing lawmakers, he emphasized the fact that for the first time in Armenia’s history the official results of the snap elections, which gave a landslide victory to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step alliance, were accepted by all political groups.
Virtually all other elections held in the country in the past were marred by opposition allegations of serious fraud. Those include the presidential ballot of February 2013 and parliamentary elections held in 2012 and 2017. Mukuchian has headed the CEC since 2011.
In 2017, an OSCE-led monitoring mission cited “credible information about vote-buying and pressure on civil servants and employees of private companies.” Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) was widely accused of resorting to the illegal practices denied by it.
European observers gave a far more positive assessment of the December 2018 elections. They said the vote was marked by a “general absence of electoral malfeasance, including of vote buying and pressure on voters.”
“Last year we had the same Electoral Code and the same body and people who organized the elections. Why did we have completely different elections?” Gayane Abrahamian, a My Step parliamentarian, asked Mukuchian.
“There was very serious and active cooperation between various state bodies, including election commissions, something which greatly contributes to a better conduct of electoral processes,” replied the CEC chief, who managed to retain his post after the “velvet revolution.”
Another My Step lawmaker, Sargis Khandanian, insisted that “almost all elections held before December 2018 were accompanied by fraud.” Mukuchian disagreed, saying that there was no serious vote rigging during his tenure.