Heritage Party stays out of Yerevan city elections
Published: Thursday March 26, 2009
Yerevan - One alliance and six political parties have submitted their lists of candidates for the 65 seats on the Yerevan City Council to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC). The election is slated for May 31.
The biggest surprise by far was the announcement made by the Heritage Party, founded by Raffi Hovannisian, the only opposition party in parliament, that they have decided not to run in the election.
The Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) is running 180 candidates for the 65 seats. (If someone declines to take a seat in the council or later resigns, the next person on the list takes the vacant seat. Thus the large number of candidates.) The top slot - reserved for the party's choice for mayor - is occupied by Gagik Beglarian, who is the current mayor. The Armenian National Congress is running 167 candidates, with former president Levon Ter-Petrossian in the lead spot. The Prosperous Armenia Party has 122 candidates, led by Health Minister Harutyun Kushkian. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) is running 51 candidates, with member of parliament Artsvik Minasian in the lead spot. The Country of Laws Party has nominated member of parliament Heghine Bisharian to head up their list of 74 candidates. Tigran Karapetian of the People's Party leads his party's list of 20 candidates. And the Armenian Labor-Socialist Party, with Movses Shahverdian in the lead, proposes 29 candidates.
Overall 643 candidates have been nominated to fill the 65 available seats of the city council. Since the Armenian National Congress is participating as an alliance of parties, it has to get no less than 9 percent of the vote to be represented at City Hall. For the six parties running individually, the threshold is 7 percent.
The election campaign will formally begin on May 2 and end on midnight May 29. The elections will take place on May 31 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
On March 23, Heritage announced with regret, "that it was impossible to reach an [agreement] with the Armenian National Congress" on a joint list of candidates. The announcement sought to draw parallels between the government and Mr. Ter-Petrossian's opposition alliance. It first condemned "the authorities' limitations put on the freedom of speech and the ongoing firm establishment of an environment of intolerance, the ‘instructed' and unsubstantiated accusations against Heritage and its founder Raffi K. Hovannisian disseminated over the years by the media that serve the ruling administration, the deluge of lies and disinformation which periodically grows worse especially before elections." It then noted "certain oppositional media's attempts to imitate the aforesaid defective mode of operation in the recent week and doing this with the silent support by the [Armenian National Congress]."
According to the Heritage announcement, if two opposition entities run in the election, "the ensuing clash will be inevitable even in the case of exerting the greatest of efforts to prevent it, and the victims will be the whole opposition and the entire people."
Some supporters of the Armenian National Congress are calling on the Heritage Party to cede its seats on the electoral commissions to the Congress. Each party in parliament is entitled to a seat on the Central Electoral Commission and regional and local commissions.
Meanwhile, Mr. Beglarian, the mayor, has decided to improve conditions - especially landscaping and illumination - in the courtyards of the city. For this purpose seeds have been specially brought in from the Netherlands.