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Armenian Opposition Buoyed By Local Election Results


Armenia - Residents of Gyumri vote in a local election, October 17, 2021.

Representatives of Armenia’s two leading opposition groups emphasized on Monday the significance of the ruling Civil Contract party’s failure to win weekend local elections in Gyumri and two other major communities.

The party led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian had won most votes in the same urban communities encompassing the country’s second largest city and three towns in Syunik province in the general elections held as recently as in June.

Artur Khachatrian, a lawmaker representing the main opposition Hayastan bloc, claimed that the outcome of the local polls held there on Sunday testifies to a major drop in Pashinian’s approval rating.

“People’s lives are not getting better,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “On top of that, there is the most important thing: national security considerations.”

Khachatrian said at the same time that Civil Contract lost in Gyumri, Goris, Meghri and Agarak and nearby villages also because Pashinian did not personally campaign in the local races. “The ruling political force is completely dependent on Pashinian’s popularity,” he said.

Hayk Mamijanian of the opposition Pativ Unem bloc similarly asserted that the lack of negative campaigning by Pashinian this time around had a significant impact on the election results.

“Experience shows that when the ruling team does not spread that propaganda of hatred -- ‘vote for us, or else that guy will return to power’ -- they conduct an extremely useless and toothless election campaign because they have no substantive message [to voters,]” claimed Mamijanian.

He predicted similar outcomes of local elections that will be held in many more communities later this year.

Neither Pashinian nor his party officially reacted to the election setbacks as of Monday evening. But Khachatur Sukiasian, a parliament deputy representing the party, downplayed their implications for national politics.

Sukiasian said that many voters have different motives when casting ballots in national and local elections. He also suggested that Civil Contract may have picked wrong mayoral candidates for the latest polls.

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