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Armenian Ruling Party Wins Big In Disputed Yerevan Vote

A woman and child at a Yerevan polling station for city elections on May 5
A woman and child at a Yerevan polling station for city elections on May 5
YEREVAN -- Armenia's ruling party appears to have won weekend municipal elections in Yerevan by an unexpectedly wide margin.

The Central Election Commission said on May 6 that with ballots counted in almost two-thirds of Yerevan’s 464 electoral precincts, President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) had over 58 percent of the vote.

That would be more than enough to return Mayor Taron Markarian to office.

The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) came in a distant second with almost 20 percent of the vote.

None of the two other major opposition groups -- the Armenian National Congress (HAK) or the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) -- appeared on course to clear the 6 percent vote threshold for gaining representation in Yerevan’s municipal council.

The HAK, led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, has called the election rigged and “yet another crime by the ruling regime against democracy and the people of Armenia.”

The HAK also said the reported voter turnout of 53.6 percent grossly inflated.

“Some will say that the elections did not go well. But contrary to some media skillful at spreading disinformation and alerts from ‘political activists,’ they were better than expected,” one of the ruling HHK’s deputy chairmen, Education Minister Armen Ashotian, wrote on Facebook shortly after polls closed.

“In some cases there were indeed vote irregularities. Relevant bodies are now busy identifying and punishing their perpetrators,” he said.

Official figures showed President Sarkisian winning with nearly 40 percent of the vote in Yerevan in a presidential election held less than three months ago. Opponents alleged widespread serious fraud at the time.