Five former and current members of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) were reelected village mayors in weekend local polls in which Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party fielded no candidates.
The two other parties represented in parliament, Bright Armenia and Prosperous Armenia, also showed no interest in the elections held in 19 rural communities across the country. Thirteen of those communities elected mayors while the six others local councils.
A senior Civil Contract representative, Vahagn Hovakimian, said that the ruling party did not contest any of those elections because of a lack of interest from its regional chapters.
“A political force’s participation in local elections cannot be an end in itself,” Hovakimian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “A political force should participate in them when it has candidates.”
Civil Contract scored landslide victories in the December 2018 parliamentary elections and the September 2018 municipal elections in Yerevan, capitalizing on Pashinian’s popularity. Over the past year, it has joined mayoral races in several other urban communities and lost some of them. Pashinian’s party has nominated or endorsed few candidates in villages and small towns.
Until last year’s “Velvet Revolution” that brought Pashinian to power, most village chiefs in Armenia were affiliated or linked otherwise with the HHK. Five such incumbents were reelected on Sunday as mayors of villages located in four different provinces.
Some of them quit the party, still headed by former President Serzh Sarkisian, following the 2018 revolution. They include Hrayr Galstian, the newly reelected mayor of Nor Kesaria, a village in the southern Armavir province. Galstian downplayed his exit from the former ruling party and said he has no intention to join Civil Contract when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Monday.
“Party affiliation doesn’t matter,” said Galstian. “A human being must be a human being. Should I join a party to change my essence? I remain the same Hrayr that was first elected [in 2011.]”
Also reelected was the incumbent mayor of another southern village, Mrganush, who is affiliated with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the HHK’s former junior coalition partner. Dashnaktsutyun was also part of Pashinian’s first government from May to October 2018. Like the HHK, it is now in opposition to Pashinian and holds no parliament seats.