Preliminary findings after the election
Armenia held early parliamentary elections on Sunday that observers said were peaceful and allowed Armenian citizens to make a democratic choice. Violations were not of a significant nature. However, the runner-up in the election, Robert Kocharian's Armenia Bloc, committed far more violations than other parties. Both domestic and foreign election observers provided preliminary findings on the conduct of these elections
The Akanates Observation Mission, which includes EPDE member Transparency International Anticorruption Center, found that the voting process was peaceful and well-organized, with no serious violations that would affect the election results. Although the pre-election campaign was quite fierce, the election was generally in the hands of Armenian citizens.
The violations observed were similar to those reported during the 2017 election, but not as severe and less likely to affect election results. . Several significant violations were observed, however.
The most common violations were voter intimidation and the presence of unauthorized persons at polling stations. Many instances of voters being pressured to vote a certain way, commandeering voters, and people "supervising" voters at polling places were observed across the country. . There have also been several reports of vote buying, but there are no concrete numbers on this as evidence is still being collected.
Many violations of the election law were committed by the Armenian Bloc. Other parties also had some violations, but not as many as the Armenian Bloc.
During these elections, both the ruling and other political forces were involved in the misuse of administrative resources. Cases were also reported of armed forces using administrative resources for the benefit of one political force, but it is not clear whether for the opposition or the ruling party.
Some problems with ballot handling were observed, but those ballots with incorrect markings were not issued to voters. Other violations of the Election Code include failure of voters to sign voter lists or failure of polling place members to sign protocols. Accessibility and sometimes poor location of polling stations remains a problem. Observers also reported inadequate facilities and equipment at some polling stations.
Some observer violations have been reported, ranging from obstructing observers from taking pictures of election procedures to indirect threats or abusive language against them.
Armenia experienced several power outages on election day. Observers noted that these did not disrupt the counting process and no specific geographic trends in the power outages could be detected.
Democratic elections with high voter engagement in reporting violations
The Alliance of Independent Observers, which includes EPDE member Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor, said the elections were democratic and violations were not significant. The voter turnout of over 49% was similar to the 2018 elections. This election was unique in that voters were very involved in reporting violations to observers, indicating that voters are not indifferent to the quality of their elections.
Election Day - incidents and proceedings
However, there was a correlation between the suspiciously high voter turnout and the large number of votes for the Armenia Bloc at some polling stations. At four polling stations, the number of voters did not match the number of votes cast, so observers will be checking the voter lists at these polling stations to see if violations occurred.
Violations were observed in 50% monitored polling stations by the observation mission. These included violations of voting privacy and illegal campaigning at polling places.
At 30% polling stations, observers noted that unauthorized persons were present in the polling stations, and overcrowding in the polling stations was observed. At the end of Election Day, observers noted that 29% video cameras at polling stations were not working. This high number was due in part to power outages in Armenia that affected some polling stations.
Observers recorded 52 serious violations, including voter bribery and voter pressure. Cases of voter bribery were not of a significant nature to affect the free expression of voters' will, but it was the category of violations for which observers received the most complaints from voters. Pressure was reportedly exerted by employers on employees, and by local government bodies on their employees. . cases of these serious violations involving the Armenian Bloc were also more frequent compared to other parties. Observers also noted that cases of misuse of administrative resources generally increased toward the end of the voting process. .
Observers also reported instances of committee members' lack of familiarity with key aspects of the election process that should be improved in the future.
Despite some changes to the Electoral Code, such as the removal of district seats, which have made these elections more inclusive, risks remain. Legal loopholes can still be abused by political parties. This is especially true for administrative violations that are not adequately addressed in the Electoral Code.
The justice system needs a major overhaul, observers said. Many violations were reported by individuals, for example, concerning cases of bribery, which is a serious crime. Inaction by law enforcement agencies has been reported due to a lack of knowledge on how to deal with reported violations.
Campaign and media environment
Despite the tense atmosphere and incidents of hate speech before Election Day, the election was generally free. The media did not intervene during voting. However, observers noted that there were instances of disinformation by foreign media.
Unequal access to advertising space and public airtime has created a somewhat uneven playing field for rivals. Some controversial Administrative Court decisions regarding the distribution of campaign materials have also not created a level playing field for campaigns.
The Swedish parliament passed a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. In Monday's vote (June 21), 181 of the 349 members of the Riksdag in Stockholm voted against the prime minister in office since 2014. Last Thursday, a motion of no confidence in Löfven was tabled by the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, the motion as announced was supported by several opposition parties including the Moderate Coalition Party, the Christian Democrats and the Left Party. Löfven has two options: resign within a week or call new early elections.