“I have traveled to 40 communities and met 1400 people, and I may assure you in the country there is no one who says “yes”. Who should have needed this buffoonery? We have dashed aside the budget for over one year and a half, and fancy what a budget of retreat we are going to have! Neglecting the mounting challenge of immigration and the dangerous speed of poverty, we sit changing the Constitution,” said Aram Manukyan, “The current Constitution is inefficient because the authorities lack the will to act in line with the Constitution. Why to change it?”
Artsvik Minasyan disagreed, “What we regard as a political will must be a mechanism which will be defined in the Constitution and compel the authorities to generate the political will to act. It should not be left to their discretion.”
The changes, Manukyan believes, will alienate people from governing the country. “There are three direct popular elections: presidential, local and parliamentary. The proposed changes read that people will not elect the President; local and parliamentary elections will be held every five years instead of three years and four years respectively. It is a concept to prevent citizens from voting.”
Artsvik Minasyan believes the number of elections should not be set as a requirement for fostering democracy otherwise elections could be held annually.
Artsvik Minasyan spoke on the proposed “soft” constitution, namely the concept that 97 out of 220 articles may be changed through the Parliament’s voting, and how risky he considers it given the professional capacities of the current lawmakers.
“Fundamental provisions may be changed through a referendum only. On the other hand, you are speaking about today’s National Assembly whereas we should view it from a perspective of a future parliament, of what we will have if these changes are adopted,” said Artsvik Minasyan.
The proposed project includes requirements that will enhance the quality of the Parliament, Minasyan insisted and pointed out the Armenian knowledge requirement.
Minasyan prioritized the establishment of precise mechanisms for defining responsibilities. “They keep asking if the current Constitution hinders holding free and fair elections. So, it neither hinders nor helps! The Constitution fails to ensure equal responsibilities for those who are responsible for conducting elections. Now the Constitution does not specify who is tasked to ensure the conduction of fair elections. The provision that the President ensures adherence to the Constitution is too declarative and difficult to meet. The Central Electoral Committee will bear the responsibility if the changes are passed, and the Parliament will elect the members of the committee with 3/5 of a vote. And the committee will discharge political parties of election bureaucracy.”
Arevik Sahakyan, Discussions Coordinator