The pro-government majority in the Armenian parliament will reject an opposition proposal to hold the upcoming parliamentary elections on a solely party-list basis, a senior lawmaker from the ruling Republican Party (HHK) said on Tuesday.
Hovannes Sahakian said Armenia’s governing coalition has made a “political decision” not to make further changes in the Electoral Code before the elections due in May. He repeated HHK representatives’ assurances that the code provides for their proper conduct.
The leading opposition forces claim the opposite, having proposed more radical amendments to the election law. In what they presented as a compromise solution, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party suggested late last month that the authorities only agree to distribute all 131 seats in the National Assembly under the system of proportional representation.
Under the existing law, only 90 seats will be up for grabs on the party-list basis. The remaining 41 deputies are to be elected on an individual basis.
Armen Rustamian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Monday that his party and Zharangutyun will jointly table corresponding amendments and include them on the parliament agenda soon.
Sahakian made clear, however, that while the parliament majority is ready for such a debate it will block the opposition bill in the end. He dismissed opposition arguments that vote manipulation has been particularly widespread in elections held in the single-mandate constituencies.
Sahakian also claimed that the opposition bill is unconstitutional. “At this point there are some obstacles to a switch to a 100 percent proportional representation system,” he told a news conference. “First of all, some changes would have to be made in the constitution before amending the Electoral Code. That is almost impossible to do in practical terms.”
Opposition representatives have said that rejection of their initiative would dent the credibility of government pledges to ensure that the May polls are the most democratic in Armenia’s history.