yYAXssKCQaUWZcXZ79RJTBLvo-c;SfREtjZ9NYeQnnVMC-CsZ9qN6L0 Finance, Economics, Globus, Brokers, Banks, Collateral-Oriano Mattei: YEREVAN -- An exit poll shows President Serzh Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia leading in an April 2 vote that will determine who guides the country through its planned transition to a parliamentary system of government next year. The poll, taken by Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization and reported by Armenian television, showed Sarkisian’s party with 46 percent of the vote, followed by former coalition partner, the center-right Tsarukian Alliance led by pro-Russia tycoon Gagik Tsarukian, with 25 percent.

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domenica 2 aprile 2017

YEREVAN -- An exit poll shows President Serzh Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia leading in an April 2 vote that will determine who guides the country through its planned transition to a parliamentary system of government next year. The poll, taken by Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization and reported by Armenian television, showed Sarkisian’s party with 46 percent of the vote, followed by former coalition partner, the center-right Tsarukian Alliance led by pro-Russia tycoon Gagik Tsarukian, with 25 percent.

President Serzh Sarkisian casts his ballot at a polling station in Yerevan on April 2.
President Serzh Sarkisian casts his ballot at a polling station in Yerevan on April 2.


YEREVAN -- An exit poll shows President Serzh Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia leading in an April 2 vote that will determine who guides the country through its planned transition to a parliamentary system of government next year.

The poll, taken by Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization and reported by Armenian television, showed Sarkisian’s party with 46 percent of the vote, followed by former coalition partner, the center-right Tsarukian Alliance led by pro-Russia tycoon Gagik Tsarukian, with 25 percent.

The Central Electoral Commission said turnout stood at about 51 percent.
Nine parties and alliances are seeking seats in parliament in a campaign that focused mostly on the economic difficulties in the South Caucasus nation of 3 million.
Under constitutional changes approved in a 2015 referendum, the Armenian prime minister’s office will become more powerful while the presidency is to become a largely ceremonial post elected by parliament.
ALSO READ: In Armenia, Unprecedented Outreach Ahead Of Elections
Those changes are due to take place when Sarkisian’s second and final term ends in 2018. Critics charge that they were designed to allow him to stay in power beyond the presidency’s two-term limit.
Sarkisian denies that. But if the ruling party wins enough votes to control a parliamentary majority, either alone or in a coalition, he could continue to exercise executive power as prime minister.
He also could maintain clout by staying on as leader of his party, or he could exert influence through a handpicked successor.
WATCH: Armenians Vote As Nation Shifts Toward Parliamentary Governance
Sarkisian declined to comment on his party’s chances of winning the vote after casting his ballot in a polling station in the capital, Yerevan. 
"Today is not the time to assess chances," he told journalists. "Today is the time to get votes."
Of the other eight parties or political blocs contesting the election, the Republican Party’s chief challenger is the Tsarukian Alliance.
"Everything now depends on our people," Tsakurian said after casting his ballot in his native village of Arinj, north of Yerevan. "They are the ones who decide."
Before breaking away and branding itself as an opposition force, Tsarukian had been a coalition partner of the Republican Party.
Businessman Gagik Tsarukian, who heads the center-right Tsarukian Alliance
Businessman Gagik Tsarukian, who heads the center-right Tsarukian Alliance
It was not clear ahead of the election whether Tsarukian would be willing to form a coalition again with Sarkisian’s party if, as the opinion polls suggest, neither wins enough votes to govern on its own.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, a smaller party currently in the ruling coalition with the Republicans, could help Sarkisian’s party form a majority coalition if Tsarukian is unwilling to do so.
Polls left it uncertain whether that party will get enough votes to be represented in parliament.
To win parliamentary seats, a party must win at least 5 percent of the vote and an alliance of parties must win at least 7 percent.
The right-wing conservative ORO Alliance, a bloc formed by three former cabinet ministers, could clear the threshold and win parliamentary seats.
That alliance takes an even harder line than Sarkisian’s Republicans on negotiations with Baku toward a settlement of the long-running conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Polls suggested three other political forces also have a chance to win parliamentary seats.
One is the Congress-PPA Party Alliance of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, which puts an emphasis on making land-for-peace concessions with Baku in order to reach a settlement on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Another is the Armenian Renaissance Party, led by former parliament speaker and former security council chief Artur Baghdasarian.
Baghdasarian owns the private television channel TV3, which has given heavy coverage to his party’s election campaign.
Polls suggest the centrist opposition Way Out Alliance, which has positioned itself as more pro-Western than its rivals, also was close to crossing the 7-percent barrier it needs to win parliamentary seats.
Opinion polls suggest that two smaller parties -- the Communists and the pro-Western Free Democrats -- are unlikely to win parliamentary seats.
Days ahead of the vote, the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan issued a joint statement with the European Union, Germany, and the United Kingdom expressing concerns about allegations of irregularities since the campaign formally began on March 5.
The March 29 statement said diplomats were "aware of and concerned by" what it said were allegations of "voter intimidation, attempts to buy votes, and the systemic use of administrative resources to aid certain competing parties."
In its interim report on March 7, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)'s observation mission also noted allegations of "widespread vote-buying" and "the prevalent perception" of "pressure and intimidation of voters."
The OSCE mission also said that Armenia's major commercial television stations "are financed by business and political groups and are perceived as being strongly associated with the government, as is public TV."
The report said journalists had complained to monitors about "interference into editorial autonomy" and the "discouragement of critical reporting of the government on television."
WATCH: In Armenia, Several Reporters Attacked While Covering Elections
On election day, a reporter with RFE/RL's Armenian Service was attackedin Yerevan’s Kond neighborhood after investigating allegations of vote-buying at a local campaign office of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Another female reporter was also attacked outside the HHK office in Kond when she started filming people visiting it.
The Prosecutor-General's Office said more than 220 criminal allegations of voter fraud were under investigation and that it had reports of significant problems with new voter identity devices that failed to recognize hundreds of
voters, including the president.
The main focus of the campaign has been social and economic issues affecting day-to-day life in the former Soviet republic.

Two political forces, Nikol Pashinian’s Way Out and the Free Democrats Party, have sought to position themselves as more pro-Western than their rivals.
Political analysts say that’s because public anger over Armenia’s economic problems is even stronger now than in 2015, when thousands of demonstrators blocked a central boulevard in Yerevan to protest planned electricity-price hikes.

For many, low wages, high inflation, joblessness, and corruption have eclipsed the question of whether Armenia should remain within the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union or seek closer integration with Europe.

Russian weapons deliveries to Baku had been the topic of heated debate after an escalation of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh last year.

But in the parliamentary campaign, most political forces steered clear of those issues and the question of whether Armenia is more secure with Russia as its ally.
With reporting by RFE/RL correspondent Ron Synovitz in Prague and Suren Musayelyan in Yerevan

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