By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Parliamentary leaders of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) on Wednesday spoke out against amendments to the election law proposed by the opposition minority as a safeguard against vote irregularities.
The amendments, drafted by 28 opposition deputies, were on Monday sent to the HHK and other pro-presidential factions that hold the majority of seats in the National Assembly. The most important of them would give more powers to proxies of election candidates, including the authority to ban unauthorized personnel from polling stations.
Tigran Torosian, the parliament’s deputy speaker and a leader of the HHK, rejected the idea, saying that representatives of opposition parties already sit on all election commissions and are able to oversee the electoral process. He said the Republicans, who have the largest faction in the assembly, are therefore opposed to including the issue on the parliament agenda.
Another major pro-government party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), also signaled a negative opinion about the opposition bill. Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader, Aghvan Vartanian, told state television on Tuesday that his party is unlikely to vote for the proposed amendments.
Only one parliamentary party supporting President Robert Kocharian, Orinats Yerkir, said it may endorse the opposition package.
According to Shavarsh Kocharian, a senior parliamentarian coordinating joint initiatives of the opposition factions, said he has not yet received an official response from the parliament majority. He said the opposition wants to hear the reaction of the HHK, Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir before deciding whether or not to start collecting signatures for a parliamentary debate on the issue.
The opposition wants the lawmakers to amend the Electoral Code in time for next February’s presidential elections. Currently it controls only three out of nine seats in various-level election commissions. The six other members are appointed by President Kocharian, the HHK, Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir.