President Serzh Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), which enjoys a majority in the current parliament, will also dominate a new body to be established in it as part of the recent reform.
“An individual’s role will also be reduced in the parliament,” HHK parliamentary faction leader Vahram Baghdasarian said in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), commenting on the planned establishment of a National Assembly Council.
According to the revised Law on the National Assembly Regulations, the National Assembly will have a Council that will have broad powers vested in it. This body composed of the parliament speaker, his deputies, one representative from each standing committee and parliamentary faction will approve the draft agendas of regular sessions of the National Assembly, turn to the Constitutional Court on the matter of terminating the powers of a lawmaker, approve the accreditation of journalists and the conduct of press briefings and press conferences in parliament.
Decisions at the Council are to be made through voting. According to the law, the Council shall meet on Mondays during regular sessions at a time set by the parliament speaker.
Baghdasarian, who will represent the HHK in the Council, believes this body will raise the efficiency of the National Assembly’s work. The HHK and its junior coalition partner, Dashnaktsutyun, are expected to have a majority in this body: 11 of the 17 members of the Council are to represent the pro-government majority.
“We are trying to reduce the role of an individual in all spheres, including in the National Assembly, giving preference to more collegial bodies so that decisions are made as a result of discussions,” the leader of the HHK parliamentary faction explained.
According to Baghdasarian, meetings of the Council will be open for journalists.
As for the majority that the ruling party will have in the Council, Baghdasarian said: “It wasn’t us who determined this. This was decided as a result of the elections. People determined that. If a stable majority was formed as a result of the elections, then the political force that assumes responsibility for the country should play a hegemonic role. I consider it illogical if we assume responsibility and let others make the decisions.”
Edmon Marukian, of the opposition Yelk faction, said that with only one representative in the new Council they will have no influence on the vote.
“We will have our voice there… But it is clear that we will have no influence during the voting. We, of course, will try to have some impact by our arguments, but at the level of voting they can vote the way they want. And what happened in the chamber will happen there as well,” said Marukian.
Meanwhile, the second largest parliamentary faction represented by the Tsarukian Alliance considers the formation of the Council to be progress. Yet, member of the alliance, Deputy Speaker Mikael Melkumian, who is also included in the Council, is not rushing to make conclusions as to whether the opposition that will be a minority in the body will be able to have any degree of influence in decision-making.
“I consider the formation of this Council to be a step forward at least for the reason that in terms of decision-making it will ensure its collegial nature,” Melkumian said.