Though the new Election Code is to be drafted according to President Serzh Sargsyan’s decision and introduced to the Parliament no later than March 1, the opposition, civil society representatives and even experts know little about the provisions of the document.

Meanwhile, some of the opposition representatives are confident that the draft Election Code is ready and, Moreover, it has been submitted to the Venice Commission though the public is not communicated on that.

Representatives of civil society and almost of all political forces in the Parliament except for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia participated in the “Drafting the New Election Code” public discussion organized by the Open Society Foundations- Armenia on February 29. Republicans Davit Harutyunyan and Vahram Baghdasaryan who were invited to the discussion did not attend it to make clear which of the proposals of civil society and opposition have been included in the new draft Election Code.

According to Levon Zurabyan, Head of ANC Faction, the draft Election Code is not only ready but already sent to the Venice Commission.

 “The aim of such behavior is to ensure positive response about the Bill and later not to concede a lot to the opposition and the society. In other words, this way the Power strengthens its position. Though it should have been quite the opposite.  First the Bill should have been discussed with the representatives of the public sector and the opposition, only then it should have been sent to the Venice Commission. This once again shows that the Political Power is not fair and has only the falsification of elections in their mind”, Head of ANC faction announced.

The announcements of Authorities in Power on their openness to cooperation, in accordance to the rights protector Artur Sakunts, are doubtable. ″Where are the announcements about the openness to cooperate? Starting this moment, we record that the Authorities in Power do not ensure their OSCE/ODIHR important commitment to ensure inclusive procedure of Code development ″, he said.

The participants of the discussion consider the news about possibility of establishing high rating voting by the new Code to be problematic. This means that though the electoral system is announced to be proportionate, however individual voting for the exact person from party lists of exact polling place will be possible.

 “If it happens to be so, it’ll be in fact a very tough majority electoral system: It is going to be the most ignominious Electoral Code since the territory of the republic will in fact be split into oligarch-feudal influence zones and those who get the majority of votes in these areas will occupy higher positions in the party list”, the rights defender said.

Opposition lawmaker Edmon Marukyan who believes ranked voting system enables the authorities to win in the elections even if all the proposals of public sector and opposition are accepted agreed with Artur Sakunts. “This is why we have to fight against the introduction of this electoral system”, Marukyan said.

The oppositionists and the representatives of the civil society put forward three main proposals: to publicize the lists of election voters, make separate lists for those who have been absent from Armenia for more than six months and control them, and finally install video cameras inside and outside the polling places. Levon Zurabyan reminded that in their latest report OSCE/ODIHR experts didn’t mind publication of election participants’ lists.

 “This practice has been applied since the Soviet period till 2003. It never created any problem for anyone, nobody ever complained, the society never said “sorry, but you are unveiling secrets of private lives”. Nothing like this can happen, this is only a good instrument of control,” Zurabyan said.

“Orinats Yerkir” party is also for this proposal since according to Orinats Yerkir Deputy Hovhannes Margaryan, this is the best option for not allowing to conceal double voting.

According to the Head of ANC party Levon Zurabyan, in case these proposals are accepted, the falsification of electoral results will decrease in 50%.

At present the representatives of civil society and opposition are discussing to form a united front to achieve the inclusion of the mentioned proposals in the Bill of Electoral Code.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan

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