How Efficient Will Be the “4+4+4” Format Negotiations about the Electoral Code Draft
Armenian National Congress (ANC) parliamentary faction secretary Aram Manukyan and Republican Party parliamentary faction member Samvel Nikoyan took part in a debate at Media Center yesterday about the launch of the “4+4+4” format negotiations on the Draft Electoral Code and the provisions of concern.

“The fact that the Republican Party became “kind” and makes a format with us for the discussions is not only its desire. The international organizations have stronger positions now as they are tired of making the same recommendations for the Armenian Government for years and seeing no actions for their fulfillment. Our goal is to compromise with the Republicans through sound arguments,” Aram Manukyan said. 

Samvel Nikoyan disagreed with the opinion and said: “The Government did not initiate negotiations in such a format because of the pressure of the international organizations, the civil society and the opposition, or the demonstrations threat. We just noticed that there are problems and want to find solutions. ”

Manukyan said that it was not important how many representatives had each party in the “4+4+4” format negotiations on the Electoral Code Draft. It is important that the format is efficient. Whether it will be so or not, Manukyan said it is too early to say.

“The composition of the negotiating groups is not important, it is important to find such a solution as a result of which the society will have more trust that the frauds will be minimal.   If we manage it, the format can be considered successful. If not, we will confess that we have failed. But we do not have much time. We know that the final conclusion should be made by June, but we will not prolong the time as the government may delay the procedure. The procedure will last maximum 3 weeks and we will succeed. It will be the success of neither the Armenian National Congress, nor the civil society, it will be the success of the whole country. If we do not manage, we will try to use other pressure mechanisms to improve the law.”    

Media Center asked the speaker what pressure mechanisms he meant, whether it is about demonstrations which Levon Zurabyan, Head of ANC Faction, considers necessary at this stage. Aram Manukyan answered, “To use the street immediately as a pressure mechanism is not preferable, we will manage it later.  It is what Heritage Party proposes, their representative did not participate in the discussion yesterday. But I wish we had not done it. I am optimistic about the fact that the civil society has become one joint body. 240 NGOs and 12 parties made a comprehensive joint proposal comprised of 5 provisions. 8 out of 12 parties have members in the Parliament. It is already a wide consolidation. And if a large part of the society and political forces have made joint provisions, the Government should accept this or bring arguments why it does not accept it.”

Nikoyan considered such an approach to be blackmail and they should not negotiate with such a disposition. He said that to talk about the pressure mechanisms from the beginning is an unacceptable act of blackmail.   

“It is not true that during the discussions of the Electoral Code everyone should get whatever he wants, the maximalist approaches are not right. In the negotiation process each party should understand that he has to compromise. If one of the parties makes proposals which are technically possible, there are no obstacles to fulfill them, they should be accepted. If the proposal brings new problems and increases the distrust towards elections, it should not be accepted.” 

The government will accept those proposals of the opposition and the civil society that are technically possible and do not have negative consequences.  

“But the opposition says I propose this and you should accept it. It sounds like caprice,” Nikoyan said.

Manukyan said that even if it is caprice, nothing prevents the government to fulfill them. Along with the expensive electronic mechanisms, the government can also establish the simple mechanisms proposed by the opposition: to filter the lists, publish them and ink fingers.

“We propose a control mechanism that will cost 1000 AMD. Copying the lists will cost 500 AMD and the rest will be spent on buying ink. The mechanism you propose will cost 1000USD. So, what prevents you from establishing this mechanism and gaining the trust of the society towards the elections?” the speaker asked.

Nikoyan said that they do their best to minimize the human factor in this procedure and to make the control system electronic.  

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