With the official outcome of Armenia’s February 18 vote widely seen as a given, attention within the country is instead focusing on the election process itself.
The favorite, incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan, 58, faces six competitors, although his closest contender, the American-born Raffi Hovhannisian, the 53-year-old head of the tiny opposition Heritage Party and a onetime Armenian foreign minister, has been trailing the president by some 40-percentage points in recent opinion polls.
The final struggle between the two men, though, could come down more to alleged election violations, than to percentages of the vote won.
Hovhannisian’s campaign already has compiled and distributed a long list of grievances about alleged vote-tampering by local officials, a body made up overwhelmingly of members from Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia.
In comments to RFE/RL, President Sargsyan said that whether or not the vote had been fair would only be known “ after the election results have been summarized."
Preliminary results will be released by the evening of February 19, with final results coming a week later.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and the editor of MediaLab.am.