May 11, 2012 - 21:49 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Armenian Assembly of America is encouraged by the initial report of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the European Parliament (EP), which characterized Armenia's parliamentary elections as "competitive, vibrant and largely peaceful." The voting followed Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's promise to conduct free and fair elections.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said in a joint statement, "We welcome the efforts by the Armenian authorities to hold these parliamentary elections in a way which represents progress towards more transparent and more competitive elections."
Francois-Xavier de Donnea, the Special Coordinator who led the short-term OSCE observer mission and the Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation stated, "Armenia deserves recognition for its electoral reforms and its open and peaceful campaign environment."
Prior to the May 6th parliamentary elections, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Heffern said at a March 2012 Free and Fair Elections Conference in Yerevan, "Elections are the cornerstone of democracy, but democracy is more than just election day. What happens in the run-up to elections, outside polling stations, is just as important as what goes on inside. A maturing democracy requires political competition - competition is a good thing. Healthy - and loyal - competition can only thrive, though, with a level playing field for all parties and participants, including access to media."
While the OSCE election report indicated that access to media was "guaranteed...to all major political parties," the report highlighted concerns with respect to "an unequal playing field" as well as other shortcomings. OSCE's de Donnea stated that "several stakeholders too often failed to comply with the law and election commissions too often failed to enforce it."
The election results showed the Republican Party, led by President Sargsyan, winning a majority of the seats in Parliament, followed by Prosperous Armenia Party led by Gagik Tsarukyan, the Armenian National Congress led by former President Levon Ter-Petrossian, the Heritage Party led by Raffi Hovannisian, the ARF Dashnaktsutyun Party led by Hrant Margaryan, and the Rule of Law Party led by Artur Baghdasarian.
The Armenian Assembly congratulates President Sargsyan and the Armenian government for conducting open elections in an improved political environment. We also commend all political parties for participating in the election process, and look forward to reviewing the final OSCE/ODIHR report, including recommendations for the future.
Now that the elections have concluded, we encourage all parties to unify around our common goals to ensure a strong and vibrant nation secure in the face of our common enemies.
The Assembly urges the newly elected parliament to enact measures that will further strengthen the rule of law, guarantee transparency, enhance job creation, ensure equal opportunity, promote fair competition, as well as eliminate even the appearance of impropriety in government.