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Armenia Elections - 1998

Following public demonstrations against Ter-Petrossian's policies on the predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh that is located within Azerbaijan, the President resigned under pressure in January 1998 and was replaced by Prime Minister Robert Kocharian, who was subsequently elected President in March 1998.

Serious flaws in the 1998 presidential election continued to restrict the constitutional ability of citizens to change their government peacefully, as had the previous Government's manipulation of the 1996 presidential election. Serious breaches of the election law and numerous irregularities in the 1995 parliamentary elections, and the 1996 and 1998 presidential elections resulted in a lack of public confidence in the integrity of the overall election process.

In both rounds of the 1998 presidential elections, OSCE observers witnessed very substantial irregularities and concluded that the elections seriously challenged international democratic norms in regard to most key criteria. There were unusually high voter turnouts in certain areas, particularly in the second round, and these increases corresponded directly to high vote percentages for then Acting President Kocharian. Based on detailed analysis of the results tracked by observer reports in certain districts, it appears that ballot box stuffing, discrepancies in vote counts, a large number of unauthorized persons in polling stations, and other fraud perpetrated by local power structures inflated the number of votes for Kocharian by well over 100,000 votes in the second round, which he won by approximately 290,000 votes. Some military units were compelled to vote without exception for Kocharian, and officials used pressure to encourage a large turnout for the "official" candidate.

Voters enjoyed a full spectrum of choices among candidates; all presidential candidates were provided opportunities to present themselves to the electorate through the provision of free and paid access to state media. However, state television, the most influential single source of information, provided coverage biased heavily in favor of the acting president. The electoral process fell far short of the authorities' commitments to their citizens. There were no legal consequences for electoral fraud. The Government pursued only minor violations and no penalties were announced. There was no criminal investigation of the amply documented ballot box stuffing.

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Page last modified: 02-04-2017 14:40:18 ZULU