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Armenia launches snap elections after govt fails to select PM

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-12-10 09:34

Armenia's acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (L) casts his ballot at a polling station in Yerevan, Armenia, on Dec 9, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

YEREVAN - Armenia kicked off snap elections on Sunday to pick a new parliament for the next five years, after a second failed attempt by the National Assembly in November to elect a prime minister.

More than 2.57 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots at 2,010 polling stations across the country from 8 am (0400 GMT) to 8 pm (1600 GMT), according to the Central Election Commission (CEC) on Sunday.

Nine political parties and two alliances are running for the National Assembly, according to the CEC, including acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's My Step alliance, millionaire Gagik Tsarukyan's Prosperous Armenia party and the former ruling Republican Party led by former Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan.

More than 17,000 domestic observers and over 320 international observers from 39 international organizations and countries will oversee the on-going parliamentary elections.

The official results will be announced on Monday.

The minimum threshold for political parties and alliances to get to the parliament is 5 percent and 7 percent respectively.

If no party or coalition of parties manages to secure 54 percent of the votes, the minimum required for forming "a stable majority" as defined by the Electoral Code, a second round of elections will be held between the top two finishers 21 days after the first round.

The parliament can have at least 101 MPs and a final number of seats will be defined after the results of the elections, which is based on a majority bonus system in order to secure major stability, thus several seats can be added proportionally.

Pashinyan resigned on Oct 16, calling on the parliament not to elect a new prime minister in order to force new elections.

According to the Constitution of Armenia, if the prime minister resigns and no new one is elected after two attempts within 14 days, the country's parliament is then automatically dissolved and new parliamentary elections are to be held within the following 30-45 days.

Pashinyan rode a wave of anti-government protests to power in May. He has been pushing strongly for early parliamentary elections in December following his party's crushing victory in capital city Yerevan's municipal elections on Sept 23.

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