Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 108

Incomplete returns, available as of today, indicate that the Unity (Miasnutiun) bloc has gained at least a plurality of the parliamentary seats in the May 30 election in Armenia. Such an outcome had been anticipated by most local observers (see the Monitor, May 28) on the basis of Miasnutiun’s ability to influence the voting through its control of many local administrations.

A total of 131 seats were at stake, fifty-six of them to be allocated to parties according to the proportional system and another seventy-five to be contested by individual candidates in territorial constituencies. In the contest among parties, the Unity bloc won 43 percent of the vote and thus approximately 35 parliamentary seats. That number may well increase to an absolute majority in parliament after the returns from territorial constituencies are tabulated–a process now expected to take another day or two. Miasnutiun, created earlier this year, is Armenia’s new and undisputed ruling force. Made up of the Republican Party of Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and the People’s Party of the long-time leader of Soviet Armenia, Karen Demirchian, the bloc offered the electorate a quasi-socialist platform which it will be unable–even if willing–to implement.

The Armenian Pan-National Movement (APNM), in power from 1990 to 1998, has not won any seats on the party slates and only one seat in the territorial constituencies. That seat was won by Vano Siradeghian, chairman of the rump APNM and widely considered one of Armenia’s most corrupt politicians, in his native district. Currently under indictment on charges of organizing contract murders while in government, Siradeghian has gained immunity as a result of his electoral success. The elections were marked by poor organization, widespread irregularities and inaccurate electoral registers which prevented up to 10 percent of the electorate from casting ballots (Noyan-Tapan, Snark, Armenpress, AP, Reuters, June 2-4).