What the Armenian electoral system reform is about, and why the new government is so intent on having it carried out
The Armenian parliament has voted against a bill to amend the country’s electoral code. While 62 MPs voted for the bill, 63 voted against.
Attempt No 2
This was the second attempt to adopt amendments to the electoral code. In the first round, only 56 MPs voted for the changes with the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) shooting it down.
The RPA claim the bill has been hastily drafted, and political parties will not be able to adapt to the new principles in time for the elections in December.
Republican MP Armen Ashotyan said yesterday that the National Assembly was able to withstand the pressure and oppose the amendments:
“I think Nikol Pashinyan should be very grateful to the Republican Party for the fact that it showed principle and did not allow such hasty changes to the electoral code to occur in Armenia, which is a member of the Council of Europe. Implementing such radical changes to the electoral code 42 days before the elections would have thrown Armenia and democracy decades into the past.”
What changes were put forward?
The changes suggested abandoning the score or range system and moving to a simple proportional system. The Armenian media reported that it was namely this amendment that MPs of the former ruling party and its supporters were most afraid of.
The score system has helped the Republican Party of Armenia pack its MPs into the parliament in the past, and the system was considered a means for oligarchs to enter the parliament.
The amendments also removed restrictions on the formation of coalitions after elections and increased the period of their formation from six to ten days.
Another important change sought to reduce the threshold of entering parliament from five per cent of the votes to four per cent for parties, and from seven to six per cent for political blocks.
Another proposal sought to increase the number of female MPs in parliament to 30%, instead of the current 20%.
The fact that the bill was not passed in its second reading means that the early parliamentary elections in December will be held under a mixed electoral system.
Alen Simonyan, a deputy MP from the Yelk faction, says a third attempt to amend the electoral code would be meaningless. However, he harshly criticised the deputies who prevented the adoption of the amendments:
“I don’t want to blame factions, but this is sabotage. They did everything possible to prevent this bill from passing, but we will go to the polls with the old electoral code and [they will] see how much it [has helped] them.”