of OSCE and PACE and NDI said 90 percent of
observed voting polls got a favorable report.
Last Sunday's parliamentary elections marked
improvement over the recent presidential voting
but failed to meet international standards in
several key areas, says a report by the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Observers for the OSCE's office for Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights reported falsifications
of vote count, intimidation of observers and proxies
and violation of secrecy of the ballot during
At a press conference Monday Lord Russell Johnston,
head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe told journalists: "There was undoubted
progress towards meeting international standards
despite a limited number of reported incidents
of a very serious nature."
In 90 percent of polling stations visited by
international observers, the voting process was
assessed as either positive or with minor problems.
Far from the tense environment surrounding the
February and March presidential election and runoff,
Sunday's election was generally calm.
But the day was marred by a shooting at a poling
station in the village of Shahumyan (about 30
kilometers from Yerevan) that left one dead and
"We all were shocked by that incident,"
Lord Johnston said. "Several observers were
present at the incident. Those who are guilty
should be identified"
About 51 percent of all registered voters cast
ballots, the lowest turnout in the history of
"The low turnout is a clear indication
of the lack of voter confidence in the electoral
process and political institutions in the country,"
said Giovanni Kessler, the head of the OSCE Parliamentary
Assembly delegation. "Enhancing such confidence
is the major challenge to the political leadership
The international observers noted several improvements
in comparison with the recent presidential elections,
particularly with regard to the campaign and media
While there were charges of bias in favor of
incumbent Robert Kocharyan in the presidential
elections, this time public television generally
provided contestants with balanced coverage under
equal conditions, observers noted. The statements
by state officials calling for tolerance and condemning
electoral violations contributed to an active
and essentially peaceful campaign.
For the first time the Central Election Commission
instructed Territorial Election Commissions to
publish preliminary results according to poling
Lord Johnston questioned the figure of the turnout,
which according to Central Election Commission
increased sharply during the last hour.
"I am mystified that the turnout was running
at 43 percent an hour before the polls closed
and then rose 51 percent," he said. "In
my experience, Armenians vote in the afternoon.
"When people don't vote on a fine sunny
day, it's either because they think it will not
make any difference or because they distrust the
way in which the vote will be counted," he
The Election Observer Delegation of the National
Democratic Institute issued a preliminary report
which says that despite improvements in certain
areas of the electoral process over the last two
months, Sunday's elections and referendum failed
to cross the threshold for democratic elections.
"There is an atmosphere of cynicism, frustration
and anxiety surrounding Armenia's electoral processes,
evidenced by low voter turnout, lack of confidence
in the ability of election authorities to act
impartially and the absence of processes to effectively
redress electoral disputes," the report says.
"Nonetheless, political parties campaigned
actively in these elections; domestic civic organizations
mobilized to monitor the election process, and
voting proceeded with fewer incidents than in
Sunday's parliamentary elections were the fourth
since independence was declared in Armenia in
September 1991 and the first since Armenia joined
the Council of Europe in January 2001.