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Observers Call For ‘Further Democratic Consolidation’ In Armenia After Elections

Armenia -- Preliminary Election Results Chart, Yerevan, April 3, 2017
Armenia -- Preliminary Election Results Chart, Yerevan, April 3, 2017

International observers have welcomed what they called an improved electoral framework in Armenia and new technologies to prevent fraud, but warned that "more needs to be done to address the root cause of apathy and frustration about politics" in the South Caucasus country.

Liisa Ansala, vice president of the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, made the assessment in a May 16 statement after heading a monitoring mission for Yerevan’s municipal elections on May 14.

Voter-authentication devices and web cameras were installed in polling stations to ensure transparency and prevent electoral fraud, including multiple voting and family voting, the statement said.

As a result, election day was generally "calm and orderly" despite some reports of incidents and allegations of vote-buying and double-voting, it added.

"The amended Electoral Code and the new technical measures have certainly improved the situation inside the polling stations," Ansala concluded. "However, there is further democratic consolidation needed also outside" to lessen the "high level of political apathy and mistrust" in Armenia’s political system.

An RFE/RL reporter, Sisak Gabrielian, was roughed up by government loyalists on election day while investigating potential vote buying outside a campaign office of the ruling Republican Party (HHK).