By Anna Saghabalian
The next mayors of Yerevan will be chosen by an elected municipal assembly, rather than through universal suffrage, the government confirmed on Thursday.
Unlike the other Armenian cities and towns, Yerevan has until now been governed by mayors appointed by the president of the republic, despite being home to at least one third of Armenia’s population. One of the amendments to the country’s constitution enacted in November 2005 gave it the status of a local community that should have an elected chief executive.
The amendment left it to the central government and parliament to decide whether the Yerevan mayor shall be directly elected by city residents or otherwise. The government has been working on a relevant draft law which is expected to be debated by the National Assembly later this year. Ministers finalized the bill and publicized its main principles on Thursday.
Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian said there are still “several contentious” issues that will be sorted out within the next six days before the bill is sent to the parliament. But he said it is already clear that the government will propose to set up a 55-member city council that will elect the mayor.
Armenia’s leading opposition groups have long stood for a direct election of the Yerevan mayor.
According to Danielian, the Yerevan assembly would be elected by voters under the system of proportional representation, meaning that only political parties would be able to field candidates. A party which wins more than 40 percent of the vote would see the individual topping its list of candidates automatically become mayor, he said.
The bill, if passed, will also lead to the dissolution of the elected administrations of Yerevan’s ten administrative districts currently run by elected mayors and “councils of elders.” It is the Yerevan mayor who will appoint district chiefs.
(Photolur photo: The Yerevan municipality building.)