Ex-Ruling Party Wiped Out as Revolutionary Wins Armenia Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Armenia’s former ruling Republican party was wiped out in parliamentary elections that handed a massive majority to the leader of the country’s “Velvet Revolution.”

Preliminary results show acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step alliance won 70.4 percent of votes in Sunday’s elections, Armenia’s Central Election Commission reported. The Republicans received 4.7 percent, just short of the 5 percent threshold for parties to win seats in the National Assembly.

The result is a crushing defeat for a party that dominated the Caucasus republic for nearly two decades before Pashinyan led weeks of street protests that forced former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan to resign in April amid widespread anger at corruption and poverty. While public support carried Pashinyan to the premiership in May, he pushed in October for early elections because the Republicans still controlled parliament after winning 58 of 101 seats in 2017 elections.

“The citizens of Armenia are forming an absolute revolutionary majority in parliament,” Pashinyan told reporters at a televised news conference early Monday. Voters “have given a mandate of trust to continue with the fight against corruption,” he said.

Prosperous Armenia, headed by businessman and former world champion arm-wrestler Gagik Tsarukyan, and Bright Armenia, led by a former ally of Pashinyan’s, were the only others to win seats in elections contested by 11 parties and blocs. Russia is watching events closely in the nation of 3 million people that hosts a vital Russian military base and is engaged in a 30-year conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

International observers concluded the elections “were held with respect for fundamental freedoms and enjoyed broad public support,” Peter Osusky, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s special coordinator, told reporters in the capital, Yerevan. “The general absence of electoral malfeasance, including of vote-buying and pressure to voters, allowed for genuine competition,” he said.

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