“The Contradiction between De jure and De Facto Constitutional Orders”
July 5 is the Constitution Day of the Republic of Armenia. In 1995, July 5, the newly independent Armenia adopted its first constitution through a nationwide referendum. It has been revised twice during the whole history – in 2005 and in 2015.

By the last referendum, the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia was subjected to radical changes, and if in 1995, we chose the semi-presidential system as a state governance model with a strong institute of the president, in 2015, Armenia has passed to a model of pure parliamentary governance by the constitutional amendments.

Our task is not the constitution but to abide by the rules of the game set out in the constitution.

Armen Mazmanyan, Constitutionalist, Armen Grigoryan, Political Scientist, and Artak Kirakosyan, Chairman of “Civil Society Institute” NGO, expressed their opinions during the discussion entitled The Contradiction between De jure and De Facto Constitutional Ordersat Media Center on July 4.

The speakers accept that the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia has problems with the application in real life, for which both the authorities and the society have their share of guilt. The constitutionalist Armen Mazmanyan explains that contradiction with the fact that our society is not yet ready to be guided by that public contract.

“Unfortunately, the Constitution is not reflected and is not perceived in public consciousness as a public contract which stems from the interests of all of us,” Armen Mazmanyan said, adding that this is not because of the constitution but is a consequence of political consciousness and the dynamics of processe developments.

Armen Grigoryan, who was one of the organizers of "No" movement during the constitutional amendments and was against the constitutional amendments, considers the reasons for the obstacles in the application of the constitutional norms mainly in the political sphere. The latter considered these issues in the context of the newly adopted constitution.

“In 2015, the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia has not changed for the purpose of developing democracy or improving the governance of the country but there was one purpose, and it was done for one person, who is Serzh Sargsyan,” the political scientist says.

He is concerned that the Armenian authorities have changed the constitution only for providing President Serzh Sargsyan with the opportunity to claim the position of the country's leader for the third time.

Referring to the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia in the context of the fundamental human rights protection, Artak Kirakosyan states that, in reality, only the protection of political rights, that is, the right of freedom of speech, the right to organize gatherings and associations can not automatically lead to the protection of social rights.

“In terms of political rights, we have a little better situation with this constitution but we understand very well that today there is no balance in terms of social issues, distribution of economic benefits and so on. The oligarchic system will continue to exist, even if you have freedom of speech and even the right to vote,” Artak Kirakosyan says. The latter brings an example of Georgia and Moldova, where free and fair elections take place to some extent but it has not solved the problems of social protection and country development.

Armen Mazmanyan, disagreeing with the above-mentioned opinion, states that the realization of social rights is closely related to the realization of political rights. In his opinion, the problem is not in the constitution but to abide by the rules of the game set out in the constitution.

“What social and economic development can we speak about when we do not have independent courts? We do not have a clear separation of branches of power. In our case, economic development directly comes from the development of political institutions,” Armen Mazmanyan said. 

Armen Grigoryan considers it a fundamental issue today to solve the problem of reproduction by the authorities through the constitution.

“Any democracy itself is dynamic and one of the most important things in developing societies is that power changes, even if there is some success in that power, there is an opportunity to change,” Armen Grigoryan says.

The political scientist is convinced that Armenia's problems come from one point, which can lead to the effective functioning of different institutions, and that point is the lack of free and fair elections.

“The lack of free and fair elections leads to the monopolization of power,” Armen Grigoryan said.

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