20/02/2008 - Results
With the support of outgoing President Robert Kocharian and Prosperous Armenia (BHK) led by Gagik Tsarukian, the party of the presidential majority, outgoing Prime Minister Serzh Sargzyan (Republican Party HHK) won the presidential election that took place in Armenia on 19th February 2008, winning 53.17% of the vote and therefore the absolute majority in the first round. The former Armenian president (1991-1998), Levon Ter-Petrossian, came second with 21.63% of the vote. He was followed by Artur Baghdasarian, leader of the opposition party, Rule of Law, (OE), who won 16.76% and Vahan Hovhannisian (Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun, HHD) 6.21%.
The other five candidates - Artaches Guegamian, Vazgen Manoukian, Aram Harutyunian, Arman Melikian and Tigran Karapetian – won under 2% of the vote each. Outgoing President Robert Kocharian, in power since 1998, could not stand since the Constitution prohibited him from running for a third consecutive term in office.
Turn out reached 69.25%, i.e. +8 points in comparison with the first round of the presidential election on 19th February 2003.
Serzh Sargzyan focussed his campaign on political and economic stability (13.7% GDP growth in 2007). The new President will also probably continue the foreign policy undertaken by his predecessor, which means enhancing links with neighbouring Russia and fostering a lack of relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan. The two countries broke off diplomatic relations with Armenia in answer to Erevan's support of the separatist movement in Mountainous Karabagh, the Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan territory.
"I voted for stability," declared outgoing President Robert Kocharian, adding "Each election is a test we have to go through and from which we emerge stronger. I am confident that the election will herald a new step forwards for a stronger, more democratic Armenia.
" The outgoing Head of State, like Serzh Sargzyan comes from Mountainous Karabagh. The independence of Kosovo proclaimed on 17th February has given ideas to some Armenians who believe that the enclave in Azerbaijan territory should be recognised as sovereign.
Although the outgoing President has not said what he will do in the future he will continue to have political influence. Some observers think that he will become Prime Minister, a scenario that resembles the one that is emerging in Russia at present.
"It was not an election. It is an attempt by the authorities to take over power. The rules were seriously infringed during voting, ballot-stuffing, kidnappings and beatings of some of our representatives in the polling stations,
" said Arman Moussinian, spokesperson for Levon Ter-Petrossian, who called for demonstrations on 20th February in the centre of Erevan. The opposition forces threatened before the first round of the presidential election to call on their supporters to go onto the streets if they observed infringements. "I shall win the first round. Some very low acts are being prepared,
" said Levon Ter-Petrossian who accused the authorities of having fixed the election and of pressurizing his supporters.
Around 600 foreign observers followed the voting. "The presidential election took place in accordance with international standards,
" declared Thomas Gruner, a member of the European Parliament's mission. It is "on the whole" in accordance with international standards said the observers of the Organisation for security and cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on 20th February.
Serzh Sargzyan, born in 1954 in Stepanakert, the capital of Mountainous Karabagh, is a graduate of the faculty of philology of the University of Erevan. Between 1979 and 1988 he held various posts within the Communist Youth League before being elected MP at the Supreme Council (name of the Armenian parliament under the Soviet regime) in 1990. In 1989, Serzh Sargzyan, a specialist with regard to defence and security issues became chairman of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh Self-Defence Forces Committee. In 1993 he became Defence Minister. In 1995 he was appointed director of the National Security Council and then Minister for National Security. He joined the Republican Party in 2006 of which he soon became the president. In April 2007 he succeeded Andranik Margarian as Prime Minister when the latter passed away.
The new President will be sworn in on 9th April next.
Results of the Presidential Election on 19th February 2008 in Armenia
Turn out: 69.25%