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Pashinian’s Bloc ‘Still Very Popular’


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian holds an election campaign rally in Artik, November 26, 2018.

A senior lawmaker representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step alliance claimed on Wednesday that it remains more popular than suggested by a U.S.-funded opinion poll conducted in Armenia in May.

According to the poll commissioned by the Washington-based International Republican Institute (IRI), My Step would garner 59 percent of the vote if fresh parliamentary elections were held now. The bloc got over 70 percent in the last Armenian elections held in December.

Hakob Simidian, the secretary of My Step’s parliamentary faction, disputed the 11 percent percentage point decline is the bloc’s popularity indicated by the voter survey. “I think assertions that if elections were held now we would get more votes may actually be true,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Simidian said at the same time the IRI poll disproved opposition claims that Pashinian is rapidly losing his huge popularity acquired during the April-May 2018 “Velvet Revolution.”

Pashinian also dismissed those claims at a May 8 news conference in Yerevan held on the first anniversary of his election as prime minister. He said if general elections were held now his bloc would fare even better than it did in in December.

The survey funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development also found that businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) had 12 percent support in May, up from 8 percent polled by it in December. Naira Zohrabian, a senior BHK figure, questioned the credibility of IRI polling data, saying that Tsarukian’s party is far more popular now.

According to the pollsters, only 4 percent of 1,200 respondents said they would now vote for Bright Armenia (LHK), the other opposition party represented in the current parliament. The LHK thus trailed the former ruling Republican (HHK) and Dashnaktsutyun parties that failed to clear the 5 percent threshold to enter the National Assembly.

While questioning the poll result, LHK leader Edmon Marukian admitted that his party’s approval rating has dropped since December. He blamed that on the LHK’s lack of “resources” and “ugly smear campaigns” waged against it.

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