YEREVAN, Armenia – President Serge Sarkisian's party has won a majority of seats in a parliamentary election that international observers said Monday were competitive and peaceful, but undermined by organizational problems and some interference by political parties.
The elections were seen as a test of Sarkisian's support ahead of next year's presidential election in which he is expected to seek a second term.
The results showed the president's Republican Party won at least 68 of the parliament's 131 seats. In the outgoing parliament, the party was a few seats shy of a majority and formed a coalition with the Prosperous Armenia party, which finished second in Sunday's election.
"Armenia deserves recognition for its electoral reforms and its open and peaceful campaign environment, but, in this race, several stakeholders too often failed to comply with the law and election commissions too often failed to enforce it," said Francois-Xavier de Donnea, a member of the Belgian parliament who headed the observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The OSCE urged the Armenian government to address the problems before the presidential election.
The opposition Armenian National Congress, led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, finished a distant third but did well enough to enter parliament for the first time. The party will get up to eight seats.
Ter-Petrosian has not yet said whether he will accept the results of the parliamentary election or call his supporters out onto the street.
Following the February 2008 presidential election, his supporters rallied in Yerevan, claiming the vote won by Sarkisian was flawed. The protests turned violent in early March, when clashes with police left 10 people dead and more than 250 injured.
Sarkisian's government has close ties both with Russia, which has a military base in Armenia, and the West, in part because of its large diaspora. Millions of Armenians live abroad, with the largest numbers in Russia, the United States, Georgia and France.
Armenia has tense relations with neighboring Turkey and Azerbaijan, and its borders with both countries remain closed.