Pashinian and the 14 other members of the board were elected in secret ballot by 1,024 delegates of a party congress held in Yerevan on Saturday. Media reports said that some delegates, including senior party figures not elected to the board, demanded a recount because they felt that the vote results were rigged.
During a recount completed on Thursday, it emerged that two of the newly elected board members, Deputy Prime Minister Hambardzum Matevosian and Civil Contract’s parliamentary leader Hayk Konjorian, got fewer votes than were initially reported by organizers of the congress.
A Civil Contract statement released on Friday confirmed that they will be replaced by Emergencies Minister Armen Pambukhchian and former Health Minister Arsen Torosian, who gained additional votes as a result of the recount. The statement did not say whether the miscount of ballots was deliberate or unintentional.
Gevorg Papoyan, another newly elected board member, blamed the “inaccurate” vote results on a human error and ruled out any fraud.
Papoyan, who was affiliated with former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party before Pashinian came to power in 2018, claimed that the Civil Contract convention was the most transparent and democratic in Armenia’s history.
Asked why journalists were barred from covering the convention, he said: “The vote count was transparent.”
The party figures affected by or involved in the miscount continued to avoid any contact with the press. Torosian, who is understood to have been the main driving force behind the recount, did not show up for a parliament committee meeting. Konjorian’s secretary claimed, meanwhile, that he is still too busy to talk to reporters.
Another Civil Contract lawmaker, Arpi Davoyan, was also not spotted in the parliament building on Thursday and Friday. She reportedly played a key role in the first vote count.
“There was a fraud attempt but it was exposed because the persons who committed that fraud failed to make sure that their numbers add up,” said Daniel Ioannisian, a civic activist whose Union of Informed Citizens monitors Armenian elections.
Pashinian and his political team claim to have eliminated electoral fraud in the country after the 2018 regime change. The prime minister regularly states that power finally “belongs to the people.”