The main election contenders are expected to be the ruling Civil Contract party and a bloc led by Mamikon Aslanian, who served as Vanadzor mayor until last month.
The Armenian government controversially appointed a caretaker mayor after Aslanian’s five-year term in office expired in early October. Aslanian denounced the decision as illegal, saying that he should have continued to run the administrative center of the country’s Lori province until the election scheduled for December 5.
Voters in Vanadzor and three nearby villages, which were recently incorporated into the city, will elect a new municipal council empowered to appoint the next mayor.
Aslanian was affiliated with the then ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) when the former Vanadzor council elected him mayor in 2016. He is now seeking reelection not as a candidate of the HHK but as the leader of a newly formed bloc bearing his name.
His main rival is Lori Governor Aram Khachatrian, who tops the list of Civil Contract’s election candidates. Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service last week, Khachatrian claimed that Aslanian is unofficially backed and sponsored by hardline opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament.
Two of those parties, the HHK and Hayrenik (Fatherland), make up the Pativ Unem alliance. Hayrenik has joined the mayoral race in Vanadzor separately, while the HHK has not fielded or endorsed any candidates. The main opposition Hayastan alliance has also not entered the fray.
Among the eight other local election contenders are the opposition Bright Armenia and Prosperous Armenia parties that were represented in Armenia’s former parliament but failed to win any seats in the current National Assembly elected in June.