The Armenian authorities have signaled their intention to enact new legislation that would bode well for the freedom and fairness of next year’s parliamentary elections, a senior European Union official said on Monday.
Piotr Switalski, the head of the EU Delegation in Armenia, again stressed the importance of the May 2017 polls for the country’s future.
“In private conversations with Armenian officials I said, ‘Look at the next elections as an opportunity to give a boost to the development of Armenia in the political, democratic and economic senses,’” Switalski told reporters.
“Based on my conversations with government and opposition representatives, I can say that I see common ground,” he said. “I see many signals that the [new] Electoral Code will be drawn up in a very fair, professional and responsible way.”
The code will stem from the recent radical amendments to the Armenian constitution calling for the country’s transition to the parliamentary system of government. Details of the electoral system envisaged by it could have a serious impact on both the conduct and outcome of the 2017 elections.
Amid skepticism voiced by opposition groups, the Armenian government has pledged to ensure that the new code meets democratic standards and addresses opposition concerns. A team of senior government officials working on the legislation is due to submit it to the parliament by March 1.
Switalski already urged the authorities in Yerevan on February 5 to “consult” with European election experts and make sure that the code is also acceptable to the Armenian opposition. “The elections of 2017 … may have a really big role for the future of Armenia,” he said.
The EU envoy would not be drawn on Monday on potential consequences for Armenia-EU relations of the Armenian authorities’ possible failure to hold a democratic vote. “We are thinking in positive terms,” he said.