Overall, the 18 February election in Armenia represents an improvement compared to previous presidential elections. The election was generally conducted in a peaceful manner and was well-administered under an improved legal framework. Freedoms of assembly and expression were generally respected, and media provided balanced coverage. However, the limited field of candidates meant that the election was not genuinely competitive. The candidates who did run were able to campaign in a free atmosphere and to present their views to voters, but the campaign overall failed to engage the public's interest.
The fact that several influential political forces chose not to field candidates in this election
seems to have contributed to apathy and a lack of trust among voters. In addition, electoral
campaigns were often not based on concrete political platforms, with several instead focusing
on personalities and electoral conduct. Voters were therefore presented with a limited array of
genuinely different political options.
On the other hand, observers noted increased citizen engagement in political debates on social
media. This seems to be a new and growing phenomenon which stakeholders could make use
of in the future. Some stakeholders questioned whether the required candidate registration
deposit of AMD 8 million (ca. 15,000 EUR) was onerous, and the only woman among
prospective candidates failed to meet this requirement.
There were persistent reports, particularly at local levels, of an unclear distinction between the campaign activities of the incumbent and state structures. These included misuse of
administrative resources and pressure on public employees to participate in the election and
campaign events. Until such practices are eliminated, there will not be a level playing field
between electoral candidates, and Armenia will remain in breach of its commitments in the
1990 Copenhagen Document.
The authorities repeatedly declared their intention to conduct democratic elections in line with
OSCE commitments. The Prosecutor General's Office actively encouraged citizens to report
instances of vote-buying or other violations and guaranteed that such reports would not lead
to negative repercussions for those reporting. Unfortunately, allegations of vote-buying
persist, somewhat undermining voters' confidence.
The election administration generally functioned in a professional and transparent manner,
meeting legal deadlines. Added transparency, including the prompt display of disaggregated
results and the live streaming of Central Election Commission sessions, contributed to trust in the ability of authorities to technically administer the election.
Although the police have made significant efforts to improve the voter register, inaccuracies
continue to be widely reported. Many stakeholders, including candidates and civil society
representatives noted the potential for fraud and misuse of weaknesses. This has been a longstanding issue in Armenia, and will require dedicated political will to resolve. 2
This was the first presidential election held following the adoption of a new Electoral Code
which generally provides a sound framework for the conduct of democratic elections.
Nonetheless, the disenfranchisement of all prisoners, regardless of the severity of the crime
committed, is in breach of Armenia's international commitments guaranteeing universal
Transparency in campaign financing is critical to fairness and public trust in government. The
new Electoral Code has strengthened finance rules, and requires reporting on services, assets
and products related to campaigning. However, the fact that campaign offices were excluded
from reportable expenses and the opinion of the CEC that the establishment of dedicated
campaign bank accounts is not mandatory challenged the underlying principle of
Candidate registration was inclusive, and candidates reported virtually no hindrance to their
campaigning. This freedom is important progress for Armenia. The assassination attempt on
one candidate raises serious concern, but was a unique case which did not reflect the overall
Media coverage enabled voters to inform themselves regarding the campaign. Broadcast
media generally provided balanced coverage of presidential candidates, reflecting the level of
their campaigning. Public broadcasters provided free airtime to all candidates, in accordance
with the law, and an array of private media outlets also enabled candidates to present their
views and qualifications. However, the total lack of direct debates between candidates and a
limited amount of critical journalism limited voters' ability to compare and contrast political
On election day, the voting process was well organized in most of the polling stations
observed. However, instances of organizational problems were observed as was one case of
ballot box stuffing. As in the May 2012 parliamentary elections, the inking of passports did
not provide the intended safeguard against multiple voting, as the ink could easily be wiped
The vote count was assessed positively in most cases, although there were observations
of procedural problems and isolated cases of non-matching figures. Many observers noted
low participation by domestic observers, and only few proxies representing the presidential
candidates in polling stations. The CEC declared a preliminary voter turnout of 60,05 per