Significant casualties of these elections included Parvir Hayrikian’s Self-Determination Union (SDU), former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian’s Liberty Party and Eduard Yeghorian’s Homeland Party. Each of these parties stand for free-market economics, a democratic political system, independence from Russia and a Western orientation in foreign policy. Hayrikian, the founding father of the Armenian national movement under Soviet rule and long-time political prisoner, went on to campaign for political democracy in independent Armenia, thereby setting himself and his SDU apart from other nationalist parties. Bagratian, the longest-serving prime minister, launched the country’s economic reform but failed in opposing the enthronement of clan privileges and monopolies in Armenia. Yeghorian, formerly a senior figure in the ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (APNM), criticized the APNM’s abuses of power–including electoral fraud–and drafted in the outgoing parliament an electoral law designed to curb such abuses. These three parties failed to clear the 5-percent threshold in the proportional voting, did not win any race in the single-mandate constituencies and will therefore not be represented in the new parliament.
On the other hand, a score of private businessmen and directors of government-owned enterprises have won races in single-mandate constituencies. While most of them do not officially belong to any party, most are known or believed to be informally affiliated both with parties which did clear the 5-percent threshold and with various economic clans which helped finance these deputies’ races.
The APNM, which governed Armenia from 1990 to 1998 and commanded a large majority in the previous parliament, received a mere 1.2 percent of the votes in this election, and thus no seats. Some APNM defectors who switched to the new party of power in a timely fashion, however, won seats in their new guise as republicans. The current APNM won a single seat in the single-mandate constituencies, that winner being party chairman Vano Siradeghian who ran an amply-financed campaign in his native district. Widely regarded as the epitome of official corruption in Armenia and indicted on multiple criminal charges, Siradeghian fled the country earlier this year, only to regain immunity from prosecution by becoming a parliamentary candidate and, now, a deputy (Noyan-Tapan, Snark, Respublika Armeniya, June 4-8).
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