Armenian Government Reveals New Draft Electoral Code

Opposition Accuses Government of Employing Dishonest Tactics

YEREVAN (A.W.)—On March 3, Armenia’s government endorsed a new draft electoral code. Parliamentary elections, according to the code, will be the only national elections to take place in Armenia, and will be conducted entirely by proportional representation.

The draft was published by the government of Armenia on March 2, several days after its English version appeared on the Venice Commission’s website—a move that has been criticized by the opposition, according to ArmeniaNow.

At a cabinet meeting, Minister-Chief of Government Staff David Harutyunyan announced that the draft confirmed by the government differs from the one submitted to the Venice Commission. He also said that international experts are expected to visit Armenia in mid-March, when they will be familiarized with the changes made to the draft after it was sent to the commission, reported ArmenPress. Harutyunyan added that the draft can be used as the basis for public discussions.

The debate on the draft code in Armenia’s National Assembly is expected to begin on March 14. Armenian President Serge Sarkisian has urged parliament to adopt the code by June.

Under the new system, Armenia would work with a minimum of 101 parliamentary seats with a 5-year term elected entirely by proportional representation. Under the current system of government, there are 131 members of parliament, with 41 elected in first-past-the-post constituencies and the rest by proportional representation. The draft code also suggests establishing 13 electoral districts to replace the existing 41—4 in Yerevan and 9 in the provinces. Local elections would also be based on a proportional voting system, with city councils electing mayors.

During a joint press conference on March 1, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini stressed the importance of consensus between the government, opposition, and civil society regarding the new code, ArmeniaNow reported.


Opposition to the Draft

Several opposition groups criticized the government shortly after the draft was published, saying the process was not done inclusively, and that the draft was secretly submitted to the Venice Commission before officially being released. The head of the Armenian National Congress (ANC) parliamentary faction, Levon Zurabyan, said  the ANC is ready to push for changes in the parliamentary debates.

“If the government was honest and had good intentions, it would discuss the new electoral code with its own people, public, and the opposition, and would not have sent the draft to the Venice Commission in the first place,” Zurabyan was quoted as saying by ArmeniaNow. He added that by sending the draft to the commission ahead of the discussions, Armenian authorities had sought “approval” for the document. “This is their tactic that once again shows that they are dishonest and fraudulent and that they plan to rig elections,” Zurabuyan said.

One of the major demands from opposition groups concerned about electoral fraud has been to publish voter lists after elections, which the draft electoral code does not stipulate. The draft proposes compiling lists of and registering voters electronically; according to the draft, this would clarify whether citizens are eligible to vote and whether they have already voted. The system will automatically print a ballot only if it recognizes the voter and verifies that s/he has not yet voted.

Following a meeting of the executive body of the Republican Party on March 3, party spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov tried to address some of the concerns voiced by the opposition. “The main discussions will be held in the National Assembly. Naturally, there will also be hearings, with all stakeholders participating in the discussions. We must also listen to the opinions of civil society representatives, the opposition. One should not state categorically that the views of the opposition and civil society have been rejected,” he was quoted as saying by ArmeniaNow.


  1. There is nothing in the new code that makes the election process more trustworthy. It’s only appearence of “reform”. The authorities realize that they have no chance of getting elected if there was a free and fair elections in place. Therefore they must come up with election code that will let them continue the fraudulent practice. The opposition has no way of changing this. The political process is a dead end which explains why more and more political parties and groups opt for a regime change outside of the electoral process.

    • {The authorities realize that they have no chance of getting elected if there was a free and fair elections in place.}

      RPA has been elected popularly in several free and fair elections.
      Presidential, parliamentary, regional, local.
      The losing side naturally attributes their loss to anything but their own incompetence, and the undeniable fact that they have no traction with the voting public.

      {….which explains why more and more political parties and groups opt for a regime change outside of the electoral process.}

      Which alleged RoA political parties would that be that opts for “regime” change ‘outside of the electoral process’ ?
      Name one.

      RoA-ARF, a mainstream, rational opposition party, just joined the Government. (psssst: it is not a, quote, “regime”. it is the duly elected _Government_ of Republic of Armenia).

      As to any groups that attempt anything illegal: they will be arrested if they try anything other than peacefully marching and shouting their usual delusional slogans: they will be arrested and removed from circulation.

      Nobody in RoA is going to tolerate a SorosaMaidan.

    • To Avery: I am not sure if you believe in what you are saying, but one way or another what you are saying is utterly false.

      The loosing side here is the people of Armenian who are unable to elect their leaders.

    • {…this report by independent observers.}


      Let us take a look at who funds this so-called “independent observers” at
      The one at the top of list is……
      Բաց հասարակության հիմնադրամներ – Հայաստան

      Translation: Open Society Foundation-Armenia.
      That name sounds familiar, but I just can’t put my finger on it…..
      It will come to me….
      Aaahhhh, got it.
      It’s our good old friend George Soros’s foundation
      And what is he infamous for?
      Most recently, he openly admitted his organizations’ involvement in the bloody Maidan coup in Kiev.

      [ZAKARIA: First on Ukraine, one of the things that many people recognized about you was that you during the revolutions of 1989 funded a lot of dissident activities, civil society groups in eastern Europe and Poland, the Czech Republic. Are you doing similar things in Ukraine?
      SOROS: Well, I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent of Russia. And the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now.]
      (CNN. FAREED ZAKARIA interview May 25, 2014)

      Right: “independent observers”.

  2. “This Report summarizes the observation mission’s findings concerning the organization and
    administration of the Constitutional Amendments referendum of the Republic of Armenia. The
    observation mission was conducted by the Citizen Observer Initiative and the European
    Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), with the support of the National Endowment for
    Democracy (NED), European Endowment for Democracy (EED), the Embassy of Federal
    Republic of Germany in Yerevan, and the European Union.
    The opinions contained in the Report are those of the observation mission and do not reflect the
    views of the funding organizations.”

    Avery: You are spewing false information around and trying to mislead readers. And you know that very well. The report on electoral fraud is a very thorough investigation how the regime in Armenia once again cheated people who didn’t elect them in the first place, and stays in power year after year. It is pretty disingenuous of you to pick one of the 30 donors of Transparency International and make random accusations. Soros or Open Society have done nothing wrong in Armenia except help the civil society and create employment opportunities for a country with a very high unemployment rate. As far as Ukraine, Ukrainians have every right to overthrow their corrupt leaders, with our without help from outside.

    Your rhetoric is reminiscent of Soviet false propaganda but here there are no iron curtains to hide behind. In addition to the report, there are numerous eyewitness accounts and videos during the referendum how multiple voting, intimidation, ballot staffing and other types of voting fraud takes place on December 6.

    • Sassoon:

      The one spewing false information is you.
      You have yet to name a single RoA political party, from your claimed “….more and more political parties and groups opt for a regime change…”: what are you waiting for?

      As to the rest of your post: I am quite familiar with SorosaPropaganda, and SorosaCadres. You praising anti-Armenian and anti-Christian Soros and the Open Society tells me all I need to know. And Soviet false propaganda cannot hold a candle to Գրանտակեր NGOes’ campaign of disinformation and proselytizing.

  3. Avery – I have better things to do than waste my time refuting your false claims and accusations. You better name one bad thing that Soros has done in Armenia. This should not sound like I am trying to endorse for anything and everything that he has done but people should be responsible for making claims and accusations. So I ask you to point out one piece of evidence of wrongdoing
    by Soros and his foundation. And no, giving out grants is not wrongdoing!

    As for your insistence that I answer your question, it’s not worth my time to answer every misguided challenge someone on the internet posts. You should read the news and be familiar with what you are talking about before you challenge someone. But for the record and to refute your claim that I am spewing false information, New Armenia is a coalition of political parties and groups who are for regime change outside of the electoral process.

    • {Avery – I have better things to do than waste my time refuting your false claims and accusations.}

      I am sure you do, Sassoon: don’t we all.

      {But for the record and to refute your claim that I am spewing false information, New Armenia is a coalition of political parties and groups who are for regime change outside of the electoral process}

      Yeah, sure: that is definitely a “refutation”, despite the fact that you have better things to do than to refute.
      Here is what you wrote in your original post:
      (Sassoon Kosian // March 4, 2016 at 2:07 pm //)
      {The political process is a dead end which explains why more and more political parties…}

      “Political parties” means a recognized, legitimate political party, not some fringe group that declares itself whatever it wants.
      “New Armenia” is not a political party.
      You came up with that nonsense, because you cannot name even one legitimate RoA political party which allegedly opted “….for a regime (sic) change outside of the electoral process.”.
      And the reason you cannot name even one is because, contrary to your false claim, there are _no_ recognized political parties in RoA which contemplate doing anything illegal “…outside of the electoral process..”

      PS: Please list the political parties, if there are any, in your claimed “New Armenia” so-called coalition.

  4. This Kosian guy is making excuses for Soros operations inside Armenia? Has he seen what Western powers have done in places like Serbia, Libya, Egypt and Ukraine with Soros funded NGOs? I rather Armenia live with the so-called “corruption” it currently has (which in reality pales in comparison to the kind of corruption in the West) then destroy itself so that a few ignorant and self-destructive Armenians can have employment.

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