The pro-government majority in the National Assembly is planning wide-ranging amendments to Armenia’s electoral legislation that could have important implications for the next general elections.
“We started this process early on so that we are able to address [election-related issues] one by one and in detail,” Hamazasp Danielian, the coordinator of a parliamentary working group on electoral reform, said on Tuesday.
Danielian, who is affiliated with the ruling My Step alliance, said that the parliament majority specifically wants to amend the existing legal mechanism for electing the Armenian parliament.
In the last two parliamentary elections Armenians voted not only for parties and blocs but also individual candidates nominated by them. This electoral system greatly helped former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) win parliamentary elections held in 2017. Wealthy HHK candidates earned themselves and their party many votes at the time through vote bribes and abuse of their administrative resources.
The system no longer favored the HHK after last year’s “Velvet Revolution.” The former ruling party failed to enter the current parliament as a result of the December 2018 snap elections which Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step won by a landslide. The polls were widely recognized as democratic.
Danielian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that despite that election triumph the existing mechanism remains “unacceptable” to the ruling bloc. He said it also wants to amend other provisions of the Electoral Code regulating election campaigns, formation of election commissions and appeals against vote results.
Danielian said the working group will also review another clause that bans dual citizens from running for the parliament. He described the ban as “controversial.”
With the next general elections not expected before 2023, the pro-government lawmaker indicated that the ad hoc group will not rush to propose changes in the Electoral Code. He said its more immediate priority is to draft amendments to an Armenian law on parties. One of the main purposes of those amendments is to ensure greater transparency in the financial operations of Armenian parties, added Danielian.