"In Constitutional Reforms the winner takes it all, principle prevails"
25.04.2014
13:30
The Commission on Constitutional Reforms established under the President of Armenia, has lately announced the draft Concept for Constitutional Amendments. The draft concept proposes parliamentary system of governance as a possible alternative to the existing political system.

‘The axis  of the current Concept for Constitutional Amendments is the change of the system of governance, i.e. the separation of powers. Only this section  discusses specific proposals whereas the rest are full of mere desires, with no implementation mechanisms suggested,’ outlined Armen Mazmanyan, constitutional law expert at the Media Center hosted expert discussion on the constitutional amendments and forms of state governance.

The expert also expressed fears that, if approved, the given Concept for Constitutional Amendments might enhance the autocratic system.

It should be noted that according to the draft concept, the President is elected by the Parliament from a list of non-partisan candidates, for a term of seven years without the possibility of reelection. Meanwhile the Prime Minister assumes his position based on the outcome of parliamentary elections, with the government formed by the Prime Minister and reports to the parliament.

The public reaction  to the necessity of the constitutional amendments was conflicting.

‘Armenia experiences considerable problems with regard to democracy, human rights, governance efficiency and other spheres. Nevertheless, the problems cannot be solved through constitutional amendments only, without having a proper diagnosis,’ stated Ashot Khurshudyan, economist, expert at International Center for Human Development.

In his turn Alexander Markarov, political analyst who also questioned the urgency of the amendments, compared the current events to those in 2005, when the latest recent constitutional amendments were passed.

‘Presently, the constitutional amendments are not of the same top priority as compared with 2005,’ concluded Markarov.

The participants expressed their doubts regarding the possible impact  of the provisions included in the proposed Concept for Constitutional Amendments.

‘I can’t define the Concept for Constitutional Amendments as a complete document because it comes with a great many problems whereas the legal section of the concept obviously threatens to limit human rights and freedoms,’ mentioned economist Ashot Khurshudyan, singling out few provisions which, though hoped to bring about positive changes, are still obscure. Khurshudyan particularly reflected on  the provision on shifting to proportional representation in parliamentary elections.

'Where there is a will, there are possible reforms without constitutional amendments,’ noted Khurshudyan, adding that traditionally, since the establishment of the Republic of Armenia it has not been common to speak out about problems, which makes difficult to understand what exactly these reforms strive to solve.

ArmenMazmanyan, constitutional law expert, evaluated the Concept for Constitutional Amendments mostly negatively and noted that that there exist serious threats in the provision on the political system change.

' 'The winner takes it all,' principle prevails.” said Mazmanyan. He added that the reasoning that the reforms will introduce more stability in the country is misleading because the reforms will actually undermine one of the fundamental principles of a democratic society which assumes possible unstable situations, especially in the political life, if need be.'

'In the long term the present concept proposes a model of vulnerable stability,' summarized the constitutional law expert.

It should be noted that  Robert Kocharyan, the second President of the Republic of Armenia has lately spoken negatively on the given Concept for Constitutional Amendments. In his statement Kocharyan considered constitutional amendments unnecessary for the time being, noting that amendments are to be passed only if there is no way out, as in 2005 when he was in office.

The second President's statement is often interpreted as an attempt to return to Armenian politics. Markarov disagreed with the above mentioned viewpoint, adding that any statement made by the second President is described as an attempt to return.

On April 25, 2014 "Media Center" hosted an expert discussion on the constitutional amendments and forms of state governance. The speakers included: Ashot Khurshudyan, economist, expert at International Center for Human Development; Alexander Markarov, political analyst; and Armen Mazmanyan, constitutional law expert.

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