As is typical of Armenian electoral contests, there has been a shortage of solid, regular polling ahead of the March 31 general elections in Artsakh. The few available reports and other data point to a three-way race for president in a crowded field of 14 candidates.
According to polling data cited by the Chronicles of Armenia telegram channel on March 17, Arayik Harutyunyan leads the race with 29 percent of the vote, followed by Vitali Balasanyan with 19 percent and Masis Mayilian with 17 percent. The other eleven candidates are polling at about 5 percent of the vote or less. The poll involved 291 respondents throughout the NKR.
The same poll indicates that in addition to the parties and blocs led by the three top presidential candidates, the Samvel Babayan-led party and ARF Dashnaktsutyun are expected to clear the five percent threshold necessary for representation in the National Assembly.
Polling reportedly conducted in February and cited by Armenia’s 168.am newspaper similarly pointed to Harutyunyan leading with just under 30 percent, followed by Balasanyan – 24% and Mayilian – 17%.
The three candidates also lead the field in terms of the followers on their Facebook pages. As of March 20, Harutyunyan and Balasanyan had about 15,000 followers each, and Mayilian – close to 9,000.
By all indications a second round of voting is likely. It remains to be seen whether Balasanyan or Mayilian will make it into the second round, and if either could muster enough votes to overcome Harutyunyan.