By Emil Danielyan
The overwhelming majority of Yerevan’s residents want to have an elected mayor and only two percent of them support an alternative solution favored by the Armenian government, according to an opinion poll released on Tuesday.
Vox Populi, an independent polling organization, said 86 percent of about 700 people randomly interviewed by its researchers believe that the mayor should be directly chosen by a majority of voters, rather than being appointed by the president of the republic as is the case now. Only 9 percent of them defended the existing procedure for the formation of the municipal administration which is enshrined in Armenia’s constitution.
That mechanism is widely blamed for corruption and a lack of accountability in the Yerevan municipality. All key decisions by the city authorities, especially those concerning lucrative land allocations, are believed to be dictated by the presidential administration or the cabinet of ministers.
The authorities now admit that the mayor’s appointment by the president is anachronistic and propose to abolish the practice as part of their efforts to amend Armenia’s constitution. One of their draft amendments would lead to the mayor’s selection by an elected municipal council.
The Vox Populi survey shows that only 2 percent of Yerevan residents support this option. The extent of its unpopularity appears huge even considering the poll’s 5 percent margin of error.
The mayor’s direct election by voters is one of the three conditions set by the Armenian opposition for its endorsement of President Robert Kocharian’s constitutional package which will be put to a referendum in November. Prime Minister Andranik Markarian made it clear on Friday that the ruling coalition will not accept it.