Some believe the reason they are so active in parliament is because they are in desperate need of PR
The Parliament Monitoring website conducted a study over the past three months analysing work done by the country’s MPs. The study focused on material which made it to the National Assembly after the 2 April 2017 parliamentary elections.
According to the study, three members of the Yelk party ended up in the top five ‘most active’:
- Artak Zeynalyan – 65 speeches in parliament;
- Nikol Pashinyan – 64 speeches in parliament;
- Made Tandilyan – 34 speeches in parliament.
Two other MPs from the ‘Tsarukyan’ faction also made the list:
- Mikael Melkumyan – 43 speeches in parliament;
- Sergey Bagratyan – 38 speeches in parliament.
There are four factions within the National Assembly of Armenia. Two of these belong to the Republican Party of Armenia and the Armenian revolutionary party ‘Dashnaktsutyun’ who forms the ruling coalition. There are only seven ‘Dashnaks’ in the coalition while the Republican party has 58 MPs. The other two forces – Tsarukyan and Yelk – are in the opposition. Tsarukyan has the second highest amount of MPs in parliament with 31 members, and Yelk has 9 members, surpassing the Dashnaks.
In a conversation with JAMnews, campaign manager Vigen Hakopyan said that the activeness of the parliamentary opposition is ‘natural’, given that it is the only platform on which they can speak to the residents of the country.
“The ‘smart’ opposition tries to use parliament to maintain its connection with voters, trying to show future voters that they have to vote for them. But one can’t forget that not all speeches contain rational elements. Quantity is not the same as quality. Their speeches are, for the most part, aimed at PR, although PR in politics isn’t so bad,” said Vigen Hakopyan.
Vigen Hakopyan says that the authorities mainly become active right before the elections, and the rest of the time their position is expressed by people authorized to do so.
“In any case, this is not normal – in the first five there are no representatives of the authorities. It’s possible that they don’t have people able to express the position of the authorities – speakers. Moreover, in the ruling party factions, there are MPs who can barely put two sentences together; for that reason they don’t come out to speak in parliament,” says Hakopyan.
Hakopyan believes that the Tsarukyan bloc needs to speak out even more because of their need for PR, as many are doubtful just how committed to the opposition they are.
“In this faction they welcome speeches, questions… they want to show that they know how to handle the position and power, and that they’re not just sitting there.”
At the same time he believes that, in regards to the opposition, their multiple speeches and active performance in parliament is justified because they have no other levers of influence.
According to Parliament Monitoring,the members of Tsarukyan were more absent than others at parliament meetings.
In terms of absenteeism, the first place goes to the head of the faction, businessman Gagik Tsarukyan, who failed to participate in 137 voting sessions. He is followed by another MP of that faction, Nora Arustamyan, who has missed 79. In third place is an MP from the ruling majority, Samvel Farmanyan, who has missed 76 voting sessions. They are followed by Tsarukyan faction member Ishkan Zakaryan ( absent 71 times) and Dashnak member Agvan Vardanyan (58 times).