OSCE: Shortcomings undermined confidence in Armenian elections

Armenia Materials 7 May 2012 15:44 (UTC +04:00)

Sunday's parliamentary elections in Armenia featured a vibrant and largely peaceful campaign, with overall balanced media coverage, but pressure on voters and a deficient complaints process created an unequal playing field, the international election observers said today, OSCE reported.

Observers noted the general lack of confidence in the integrity of the process amongst political parties and the general public is an issue of great concern.

The elections were held under a new Electoral Code that provided a sound legal framework for conducting democratic elections, but stakeholders failed to implement important aspects of the new law and the manner in which complaints were dealt with undermined the right to effective legal redress.

The process of candidate registration was inclusive overall. Despite improved legislation with regard to voter registration, observers said, that the accuracy of the voter lists and their potential misuse for electoral fraud added to the lack of confidence in the process.

"The high turnout of over 60 per cent, the wide age range among voters, and the clear understanding of the electoral process by young and old alike were impressive, but reports of widespread interference with the running of pollings stations, voters' movement and casting of votes throughout the day by certain political parties raised serious concerns," said Baroness
Nicholson of Winterbourne, the Head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe delegation. "The authorities must address this unacceptable behaviour before the presidential election next year."

"I cannot stress enough how important it is to see these elections and our preliminary findings in the broader context and as the beginning of the process, not the end," said Krzysztof Lisek, the Head of the European Parliament delegation. "Our preliminary conclusions today and the final
recommendations of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, once they are published, should be taken as the goal to achieve in view of the upcoming presidential election."

Election day was generally calm and peaceful, but marked by organizational problems and undue interference in the process, mostly by party representatives, the observers noted.