YEREVAN, February 18. /ARKA/. Serzh Sargsyan, Armenian president-in-office, has won 58% of votes, according to exit polls.
All the 1,988 polling stations in Armenia were closed at 20:00 local time.
According to the exit polls, the second vote-getter is Raffi Hovannisian, with his 32%.
Paruyr Hayrikyan and Hrant Bagratyan scored 3% each.
Andrias Ghukasyan, Vardan Sedrakyan and Armen Melikyan have one percent each.
One percent of voters said they have spoiled ballot papers.
The exit polls were conducted by Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization in cooperation with the Armenian Sociological Association at 122 polling stations. Some 19,130 voters were surveyed.
Some 1,259,374 people or 49.81% of those eligible to vote have visited polling stations by 17:00 local time.
In the 2008 presidential election, a 57.14-percent turnout was recorded by 17:00.
The election is being watched by 6,251 members of local NGOs and 632 observers from 12 international organizations, including OSCE/ODIHR., CIS Mission, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, the International Center for Electoral Systems (ICES) and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES).
The highest post in the country is contested by seven candidates. The top contender is the incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan, who is chairman of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA). Other candidates are Heritage party chairman Raffi Hovannisian, leader of Freedom party, former prime minister Hrant Bagratyan, former foreign minister of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arman Melikyan, National Self-Determination Union party head Paruyr Hayrikyan, Radio Hay director Andrias Ghukasyan and literature expert Vardan Sedrakyan. The eighth candidate, National Unity Party leader Aram Harutyunyan, left the race on February 8.
There is no minimum voter turnout threshold in order for the elections to be valid and if a candidate wins more than 50% of the first round vote he will be elected president. A total of 2, 505, 980 people are entitled to vote. Under Armenia's election code, the day of the presidential elections is a non-working day. According to the Armenian law, the preliminary results will be announced February 19 no later than at 8 pm. and the final results will be announced seven days after the election. -0-