Unopposed ARF Candidate Elected to Parliament

GYUMRI (RFE/RL)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation won back its tenth parliament seat after facing no opposition in Sunday’s repeat by-election in the northern province of Shirak. The local ARF leader–Hakob Matilian–was formally declared winner of the controversial polls on Monday.

The outcome of the vote became a forgone conclusion last week after the two other candidates unexpectedly withdrew from the race. Matilian’s main challenger representing the opposition Democratic Fatherland party–Vartan Makeyan–attributed his surprise move to the alleged intimidation of his supporters by the influential pro-government party and local authorities supporting it.

According to the provincial election commission–only about 7,250 people or 23 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. About 380 of them voted against Matilian. Commission members said the by-election proceeded without major irregularities.

But a local Democratic Fatherland activist–Varos Khavoyan–claimed that it was just as flawed as the previous vote held in the same constituency in May. Makeyan was then narrowly defeated by the ARF candidate–according to official results.

Makeyan’s allegations of vote manipulation led the Constitutional Court in Yerevan to annul the results and call a repeat election last month. His decision not to contest it was thus all the more unexpected.

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