By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The issue of forming electoral commissions featured prominently during Wednesday’s discussions of amendments to the Electoral Code organized by Armenia’s largest independent election-monitoring organization called “The Choice is Yours”.
The Constitutional Court on Tuesday found the Electoral Code provision allowing the presence of judges in electoral commissions unconstitutional and ordered all judges currently involved in commissions as members to stop their activities and lawmakers to make appropriate amendments in the Code.
Senior Republican Party member Samvel Nikoyan thinks this is a matter to discuss and reach an agreement. The ruling party’s representative, however, stopped short of expressing either his party’s or his personal view on who should replace judges in electoral commissions.
Gegham Manukian, of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, thinks it is yet early to speak about concrete proposals. “But I am sure that the issue will be specified before the second reading of the Electoral Code,” he said.
Orinats Yerkir’s Hovannes Markarian thinks it will only be fair if the political forces represented in parliament get an equal representation in electoral commissions. “We have six political forces in parliament -- three opposition and three pro-government. So let’s enable these political forces to be represented by two members each and we will get 12 commission members. This will be a fair approach,” he underlined.
“If we have five or six pro-government political parties winning in next elections, what will happen in the commissions, will they not form the commission by saying there is no opposition?” Felix Khachatrian, a representative of the opposition Artarutyun faction in the Central Election Commission, queried. “Three years ago we said judges have no right to be present in commissions both by the constitution and moral principles.”
And opposition “Hanrapetutyun” (Republic) Party senior member Artak Zeynalian urged Armenia’s lawmakers to be more responsible in adopting laws. “Every lawmaker at the National Assembly should bear responsibility and make sure that no norm contradicting the constitution and the rule-of-law principle is adopted.”