Armenian Parties Registered For Parliamentary Elections

Eight political parties and one alliance have been formally registered to contest Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections under the system of proportional representation.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) gave the final green light to their participation in the polls at a meeting on Sunday. It had received no registration applications from other political groups.

The registered contenders include President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK), its two junior coalition partners -- the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Orinats Yerkir parties -- as well as the country’s three leading opposition forces.

Under Armenian law, all of them except the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) will have to garner at least 5 percent of the vote in order to win some of the 90 parliament seats on the party-list basis. The 41 other seats will be up for grabs in single-mandate constituencies.

The proportional vote threshold for blocs is set at 7 percent. It is applicable only to the HAK, an alliance of about two dozen opposition groups.

The higher threshold is the apparent reason why two other opposition parties, Zharangutyun (Heritage) and the Free Democrats, did not formalize their electoral alliance created last month. The alliance took the form of prominent Free Democrats being included on Zharangutyun’s list of candidates.

While approving all registration applications, the CEC ordered the HAK to remove businessman and former parliament deputy Khachatur Sukiasian from its list on the grounds that he has not permanently lived in Armenia for the past five years. Sukiasian was earlier disqualified by a lower-level electoral commission from running for the National Assembly in a single-mandate Yerevan district for the same reason.

The CEC chairman, Tigran Mukuchian, argued that Sukiasian failed to present a police statement certifying his five-year residency.

An Armenian police division refused to issue such a document last month, pointing to the tycoon’s almost yearlong absence from the country in 2008-2009. Both Sukiasian and the opposition alliance condemned the decision as politically motivated.

Sukiasian took a Yerevan election commission to court later in March and is now expected to appeal the CEC’s decision as well. His lawyers say that the 10-month period during which he was outside Armenia constituted less than a fifth of the minimum residency period mandated by law.