Armenia’s presidential election was generally well-administered and was characterized by a respect for fundamental freedoms, including those of assembly and expression, concluded the international election observation mission in a statement released today. At the same time, a lack of impartiality on the part of the public administration and the misuse of administrative resources resulted in a blurring of the distinction between the activities of the state and those of the ruling party, the statement said.
Candidate registration was inclusive, contestants had the chance to campaign freely and voters had the opportunity to express their choice. Media fulfilled their legal obligation to provide balanced coverage and all contestants made use of their free airtime, the statement said.
Among the concerns over misuse of administrative resources identified in the statement was the participation, while on leave, of a large number of public and civil servants in the campaign of the incumbent.
“There have been clear improvements in the electoral process since the previous presidential elections, and we have noted progress in many areas, including the media environment and the legal framework,” said Karin Woldseth, the Head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) delegation. “At the same time, our joint findings note several important areas where marked improvement is needed to ensure full public trust in the electoral process.”
The electoral framework is comprehensive and conducive overall to the conduct of democratic elections, and election commissions administered the process in a professional manner, the statement said. It also noted that, while several candidates alleged that voter lists were inflated and raised concerns about possible impersonation of out-of country voters, no evidence of this had been provided prior to election day. The mission assessed positively the efforts that have been made to improve the accuracy of voter lists, although further work in this area remains to be done.
“We have observed a calm election day, characterized by no major difficulties in electoral procedures, following a somewhat quiet, low-key election campaign lacking significant political debate and real competition,” said Milan Cabrnoch, the Head of the European Parliament delegation. “This was mainly due to the decision by three main parties not to nominate candidates.”
The campaign remained peaceful, although one candidate was shot and injured early in the campaign under circumstances that are under investigation. While election day was calm and orderly, it was marked by undue interference in the process, mainly by proxies representing the incumbent, and some serious violations, including cases of pressure on voters, were observed.
“Having been in the country for six weeks, we can say that candidates were able to campaign freely and fundamental freedoms were respected. Overall, the election was administered in a professional manner and real efforts were made by the authorities to improve the quality of the voter lists. The media covered all candidates in a rather balanced manner, but that coverage would have benefited from more critical analysis and debates between candidates,” said Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, the Head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) long-term election observation mission. “Unfortunately, the blurring of the distinction between the State and the ruling party continues to be an issue. This was demonstrated in the misuse of administrative resources, pressure on voters, and a lack of impartiality on the part of the public administration.”