Armenia’s acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has won a landslide victory in snap parliamentary elections, results showed yesterday, cementing his authority months after sweeping to power in a peaceful revolution.
Pashinyan, a 43-year-old former journalist, has pledged to root out endemic corruption and address widespread poverty in the impoverished, landlocked ex-Soviet republic of 3mn people.
With all votes counted, the bloc led by Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party had taken 70.43% of the vote, the central election commission said.
The Prosperous Armenia party led by influential oligarch and former arm wrestler Gagik Tsarukyan came a distant second with 8.27%.
Pashinyan hailed his victory yesterday morning, thanking the “mighty people” of Armenia.
“I am proud of you... Let’s be courageous,” he wrote on Facebook.
He became prime minister in May after spearheading weeks of peaceful anti-government rallies that ousted veteran leader Serzh Sarkisian.
But efforts at reform stalled in the face of opposition from Sarkisian’s Republican Party, which dominated the National Assembly until Pashinyan resigned last month and triggered the snap vote.
The Republican Party took 4.7% in Sunday’s elections, failing to clear the 5% threshold needed to make it into parliament.
The only other party to clear the threshold was the liberal pro-Western Bright Armenia, which garnered 6.37% of the vote.
As both Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia are seen as Pashinyan-friendly, the absence of an opposition party in the newly elected parliament will be a trial run for Armenia’s nascent democracy, analysts said.
“The elections have brought to completion the political change made by Pashinyan’s ‘velvet revolution.’ Only pro-revolution parties made it to parliament,” analyst Hakob Badalyan told AFP. “The opposition is extremely weak and from now on public opinion will be the only counterweight to Pashinyan’s unchallenged rule.”
Analyst Gela Vasadze said: “Opposition parties were wiped off Armenia’s political landscape and that’s a challenge for Armenia’s young democracy.”
Voters had expressed optimism about the political changes promised by Pashinyan.
“Thanks to the revolution, we will finally have fair elections,” 72-year-old pensioner Parzik Avetisyan told AFP on election day. “I voted for the positive change promised by Nikol.”
Turnout was 48.63%, the election commission said.
While seeking reforms at home, Pashinyan also pursued a balanced foreign policy during his first five months in office.
He reassured Russian President Vladimir Putin that Armenia would remain Moscow’s loyal ally but at the same time sought to charm Western leaders.
Despite their poor showings, Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia parties will take up at least 30% of parliamentary seats under an electoral law aimed at preventing ruling parties from holding too much power.
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