The pro-government majority in the National Assembly plans to allow Armenian lawmakers to formally defect from political parties that helped them win parliament seats.
The Armenian parliament committee on legal affairs discussed on Friday this and several other amendments to the parliament statutes. If passed, the amendments will apply to the members of the next legislature that will be elected in April.
Under the existing statutes, only a limited number of deputies are allowed to leave their parliamentary factions representing various parties. They have to have been elected to the 131-seat assembly from one of Armenia’s 41 single-seat constituencies or held one of the top three places on the electoral lists of those parties.
“We are now saying that if a particular deputy does not want to be part of a faction anymore they should be able to leave it,” said Hovannes Sahakian, the committee chairman and a senior member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
“If a person was elected on a particular party’s ticket and their views change for some reason over time, let them state that and leave its faction,” he said.
“Look at the situation we have now: we have deputies of a single faction taking seven different positions. We therefore need to bring clarity into this field,” added Sahakian.
The HHK lawmaker appeared to refer to the parliamentary faction of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), an opposition party that won seven parliament seats in the last elections held in 2012. Three of those seats are held by deputies who have severed their links with the HAK in recent years. The current statutes mean that they would have to resign from the National Assembly if they were to formally leave the HAK faction.
Another opposition party, Zharangutyun, is nominally represented in the parliament by four deputies. Only one of them maintains an official or unofficial allegiance to the party. The three others have fallen out with the Zharangutyun leadership.