Authorities in Armenia Put a New Face on Election Fraud
WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES/YEREVAN — Earlier this year, under mounting pressure by the international community and civil society, the government of the Republic of Armenia took measures to reduce fraud and manipulation going into the 2012 parliamentary election. However, according to a special report released today by Policy Forum Armenia (PFA) — a U.S.-based international think tank and advocacy organization — true election reform in Armenia has, once again, been hijacked, only this time by even more inventive and well-concealed methods of falsification.
The report, “The Armenian Parliamentary Election of 2012,” provides an in-depth analysis of the political-economic and legislative developments leading up to the 2012 election. It also summarizes the reactions of key stakeholders — the opposition parties, foreign observers, and local civil society groups — to the election outcome.
What particularly sets the report apart from other analyses, however, is the range of statistical tests, conducted by professional analysts, that support stakeholder reactions. These tests not only yielded ample evidence of persistent and strategic election fraud, but also pinpointed the beneficiary of such corrupt practices, namely the ruling party.
Commenting on the report’s findings Adam Hug, the Policy Director at London-based Foreign Policy Centre, said, “This important and detailed report shows that Armenia still has a long-way to go to before its elections can be called free and fair. In particular, the results of the statistical analyses would seem to indicate that the election authorities successfully managed to adapt to the changes in laws and outside pressures (via illegal use of identities of Armenian citizens who have emigrated and violations in vote counting), which is deeply concerning. Armenia will have to improve its election processes if future results are to command the confidence of the international community and most importantly the Armenian public.”
PFA Senior Fellow, Armine Ishkanian of the London School of Economics, went on to say that, “The growing sophistication of fraud techniques and mechanisms, which are artfully concealed, make it difficult for outside observers to cite and document specific instances. It is electoral fraud 2.0. The authors of this report have had to bring to bear all the tools of research and analysis available to shed light on these techniques and provide stakeholders with statistical back-up that election fraud is alive and well in Armenia. The question is, what are the prospects for the forthcoming presidential elections early next year?”
PFA Executive Board member and a Los Angeles-based attorney, Edgar Martirosyan, pointed out that achieving free and fair elections is not an end in itself. “Better elections are likely to result in better governance and stronger social cohesion,” he asserted. “And it is an internationally accepted conclusion that good governance is the primary driver of economic development and progress in developing countries like Armenia.”
# # #
Policy Forum Armenia is an independent, professional non-profit association aimed at strengthening discourse on Armenia’s economic development and national security and, through that, helping to shape public policy in Armenia. This special Election Report and other PFA reports, which provide assessments of critical developments taking place in Armenia and the Diaspora, are available at www.pf-armenia.org/reports.