Armenian prime minister's bloc wins parliamentary majority

Acting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian casts his ballot in a polling station during an early parliamentary election in Yerevan, Armenia, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. The charismatic 43-year-old Nikol Pashinian took office in May after spearheading massive protests against his predecessor's power grab that forced the politician to step down. (Vahan Stepanyan/PAN Photo via AP)
Acting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian gestures as he leaves a polling station during an early parliamentary election in Yerevan, Armenia, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. The charismatic 43-year-old Nikol Pashinian took office in May after spearheading massive protests against his predecessor's power grab that forced the politician to step down. (Vahan Stepanyan/PAN Photo via AP)
Armenians fill their ballot papers at a polling station during an early parliamentary election in Yerevan, Armenia, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. The charismatic 43-year-old Nikol Pashinian took office in May after spearheading massive protests against his predecessor's power grab that forced the politician to step down. (Vahan Stepanyan/PAN Photo via AP)
Election officials wait for voters in a polling station during an early parliamentary election in Yerevan, Armenia, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. The charismatic 43-year-old Nikol Pashinian took office in May after spearheading massive protests against his predecessor's power grab that forced the politician to step down. (Vahan Stepanyan/PAN Photo via AP)

YEREVAN, Armenia — A bloc led by Armenia's relatively new prime minister trounced its political foes and won an overwhelming parliamentary majority in an early election, according to results released Monday.

Nikol Pashinian came to power in May after spearheading massive protests that forced his predecessor to step down. The 43-year-old former journalist pushed for the early vote held Sunday to win control of parliament, which was dominated by the rival Republican Party.

Pashinian's My Step bloc won more than 70 percent of the vote in Sunday's balloting. The Republican Party of former prime minister and president Serzh Sargsyan received about 4.7 percent of the vote, failing to reach the 5 percent threshold needed to be in parliament at all.

The pro-business Prosperous Armenia party placed second with about 8 percent, and Bright Armenia won just over 6 percent.

The election's outcome reflects Pashinian's broad popularity. He has tapped into public anger over widespread poverty, high unemployment and rampant corruption in Armenia, a former Soviet nation of 3 million that borders Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran. The results will allow him to further consolidate power and advance his agenda.

During the monthlong election campaign, Pashinian blasted members of the old Armenian elite as corrupt and pledged to revive the economy, to create new jobs and to encourage Armenians living and working abroad to return home.

Election observers for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe praised the election Monday for "genuine competition," saying the vote was "held with respect to fundamental freedoms and enjoyed broad public trust." They said there was no vote-buying or pressure on voters, but expressed concern over "cases of inflammatory rhetoric online."

Sargsyan's Republican Party said voting followed a campaign marked by "intolerance to dissent and tough pressure," leaving "deep divisive lines" in Armenian society.

Sargsyan served as Armenia's president for a decade before a term limit forced him to step aside. He then took office as prime minister, a move his critics saw as an attempt to hold on to power.

Thousands of protesters led by Pashinian, then an opposition lawmaker, thronged the Armenian capital. Sargsyan resigned after only six days on the job.

Pashinian said he would use his "revolutionary majority" in parliament to push through reforms, including the abolition of taxes for small business and new incentives for foreign investors.

He pledged to expand ties with both Russia and the European Union. Armenia has no aspirations to join NATO and will stay in a Moscow-dominated security bloc, he said.

Armenia is highly dependent on Russia, which provides loans and serves as the main source of imports and the top export market. Russia has a military base in Armenia and sees relations with Yerevan as strategically important.

__

Vladimir Isachenkov and Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report from Moscow.

People also read these

New, weakened president inaugurated in Armenia

Apr 9, 2018

Armenia has inaugurated a new president, as the country changes to a system where the president has...

40,000 gather in Armenia to demand leader's...

Apr 20, 2018

About 40,000 demonstrators gathered on the capital's central square as a week of large protests...

Armenia's leader quits amid protests, saying 'I...

Apr 23, 2018

Serzh Sargsyan, who ruled Armenia for 10 years, has resigned as prime minister after thousands of...

New hope: Armenia's young celebrate political...

May 7, 2018

Political changes in Armenia, a poverty-ridden former Soviet republic, could bring back many...

Court orders former Armenian president released...

Aug 13, 2018

The lawyer for former Armenian president Robert Kocharian says he has been released from custody on...

Sign up now!

About Us

24-7 Reporters publishes up-to-the-minute news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our certified reporters are among the most experienced, well-trained and talented across the globe, covering issues resonating progressives in every corner of the world.

Contact us: sales[at]24-7reporters.com