By Astghik Bedevian
Speaker Tigran Torosian formed on Tuesday an hoc parliament commission charged with looking into international criticism of Armenian elections and suggesting ways of improving their conduct in the future.
The commission will be headed by David Harutiunian, chairman of the parliament committee on legal affairs, and comprise members of all parties represented in the National Assembly. Members of the parliament and Central Election Commission staffs as well as representatives of parties and non-governmental organizations will also be invited to join the body without the right to vote on its decisions.
The press office of the National Assembly said the commission will seek to “improve electoral processes” in Armenia by proposing fresh amendments to the Electoral Code based on the recommendations of international vote-monitoring organizations.
The code has already been repeatedly been amended in recent years, most recently in December 2007, with the stated aim of complicating serious irregularities that have marred just about every election held in Armenia since independence. The impact of those legislative changes on the freedom and fairness of elections appears to have been marginal, though.
Western observers representing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe said last February’s Armenian presidential election was administered “mostly in accordance” with democratic standards, but noted that many Armenians do not trust official vote results. In a recent resolution, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly said this lack of public confidence was the root cause of the country’s post-election political turmoil.