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Armenia Holds First Parliamentary Poll Since Constitutional Change
Armenia Holds First Parliamentary Poll Since Constitutional Change

Armenia Holds First Parliamentary Poll Since Constitutional Change

Armenia Holds First Parliamentary Poll Since Constitutional Change

Armenians voted in the country’s first parliamentary election on Sunday since the ex-Soviet nation modified its constitution to expand the powers of parliament and the prime minister.
Polls prior to the vote showed the Republican Party of Armenia’s president, Serzh Sargsyan, in the lead, closely followed by a bloc led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian, one of Armenia’s richest men, Fox News reported.
Critics see the amendments as part of Sargsyan’s efforts to retain control of the country after he steps down in 2018 due to term limits. If his party controls parliament, he could be appointed prime minister after leaving the presidency.
But the 62-year-old Sargsyan, who has led Armenia since 2008, has rejected the allegations, describing the constitutional changes approved in a 2015 referendum as steps toward strengthening democracy.
The constitutional changes, set to take force after Sargsyan’s term ends, envisage largely symbolic powers for the nation’s president who will now be elected by parliament instead of by popular vote.
Prime Minister Karen Karapetian has spearheaded the Republican Party’s campaign, promising to encourage foreign investment in the economically struggling nation.
Tsarukian also has pledged to attract up to $15 billion in foreign investment from Persian Gulf countries and elsewhere.
The nationalist Dashanktsutyun party and two other parties are also expected to make it into the parliament.
Sergei Minasian, an independent political expert based in Yerevan, said the ruling party had a “significant advantage” in the campaign, thanks to its use of administrative resources.
The European Union mission in Yerevan has expressed concern about “allegations of voter intimidation, attempts to buy votes and the systemic use of administrative resources to aid certain competing parties”. It didn’t name any parties.

 

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