By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The largest faction of the Armenian parliament will on Tuesday press for major changes in the election law that would allow President Robert Kocharian to appoint nearly half of the members of all electoral commissions.
Under the existing law, the president has no powers to decide on the make-of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and its territorial divisions. All of them have 13 members. Three of them are appointed by the government, while ten others by political parties that are either represented in the parliament or have collected the highest number of voters’ signatures.
The amendments have been put forward by the pro-government Miasnutyun faction which effectively controls the current legislature. Miasnutyun wants the commissions to be formed only by Kocharian and the partisan factions of the parliament.
Opposition lawmakers believe that, if adopted, the new mechanism for the commission formation will give Kocharian additional leverage to affect the outcome of future elections.
However, the proposed changes would not take effect until after next parliamentary elections, meaning that the 2003 vote would be handled by current electoral bodies dominated by Miasnutyun loyalists.
A Miasnutyun bill which will be debated by the National Assembly on Tuesday also calls for the abolition of the provincial election commissions that oversee voting in the electoral districts and precincts. It would also ban partisan blocs from fielding candidates in 37 single-mandate constituencies and make it illegal for non-governmental organizations to take part in election campaigns.