(Saturday, August 15)
“Hraparak” seems to defend the most controversial of the constitutional changes proposed by a presidential commission, which envisages two-round parliamentary elections in Armenia always ending in a single party winning an absolute majority of parliament seats. “Common sense suggests that [under this electoral system] the two political forces going into a runoff vote would have to form alliances with other parties that won parliament seats,” writes the paper. “This means that this provision carries some risks for the [ruling] HHK because in case of a strong [opposition] desire and consolidation of the anti-government camp one could change the situation in the country and deny the HHK a chance to win a parliamentary majority.”
1in.am disagrees with claims by some opposition politicians and pundits critical of the government that the proposed constitutional amendments would turn Armenia into a dictatorship if President Serzh Sarkisian succeeds in pushing them through. “They are calling on Armenia’s political forces and society to unite and say no to the constitutional changes,” writes the online publication. It argues that the current Armenian constitution and a democratic form of governance enshrined in it have not prevented Sarkisian and his predecessors from clinging to power with undemocratic and illegal methods.
Newsline.am downplays the Armenian government’s decision last Thursday to commission the U.S. consulting firm Deloitte to look into the economic wisdom of an electricity price rise that sparked angry street protests in Yerevan last June. President Serzh Sarkisian also promised during the protests an international audit of Armenia’s electricity distribution network. The publication speculates that the Armenian authorities are probably intent on using the contract with Deloitte to “forget about” Sarkisian’s pledge. “More than one and a half months have passed since Sarkisian’s statements but the authorities are in no rush to launch the audit,” it says.