The position of the NA RPA Faction on the Draft of the Electoral Code


 On October 22, 2018 the Government of the Republic of Armenia has initiated an extraordinary sitting including the draft law “On making amendments and additions to the Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia”. 

A number of factors have affected the formation of the RPA faction’s position on the draft.
As known, successful electoral reforms require broad discussions in order to encourage both - participation of the public and political forces in the reform process, and their reception of the final results of the reforms. The involvement of all the political forces is the only modus ensuring consensus on the changes in the electoral legislation. However, the way of the organization of the discussion on the draft and its presentation to the National Assembly prove that the Government has adopted diametrically different policy.
One can recall, that a working group consisting of representatives of the four factions was formed in the National Assembly, within which the “Yelq” (“Way Out”) Faction included representatives from the Civil Contract Party of the Prime Minister. It is noteworthy, that the parliamentary format of discussions within the international standards is considered the most effective way of drafting the electoral code, and in a number of cases (e.g. adoption of electoral system) broader consensus of the political forces is required. Already in August the parliamentary working group had summed up its proposals and sent them to the Government. However, even important proposals submitted as consensus by all four factions of the parliament were altogether ignored by the Government. 
The draft has been officially submitted to the National Assembly on October 17, 2018. Factions of the National Assembly had therefore had only two full working days to study the final variant of the draft. While the Government insists that the initial version had been posted on the “e-draft” website two weeks ago, it is irrelevant, since the initial version of the draft significantly differs from the version submitted to the National Assembly. Only to emphasize the scope of substantial alterations, it suffices to note that the draft posted on the “e-draft” website contained 87 articles, whereas the final one presented to the parliament only 69 articles.
The draft has been hasty submitted not only to the National Assembly, but also to the Venice Commission. The draft has been submitted to the Commission only a few days ago. As a result the Venice Commission didn’t have an opportunity to hold a formal discussion and present formal opinion. In fact, for the first time the Venice Commission has been deprived of the opportunity to give an opinion and anticipate changes in the draft of the electoral code on the basis of that opinion before its adoption by the National Assembly. There is no OSCE / ODIHR opinion either.
The proposed regulations are intended to be implemented during the upcoming extraordinary elections. In general agreeing to the idea of preterm elections, we have repeatedly opposed the haste in attempts of holding the elections until the end of 2018. Holding the elections within two months under pressure from the executive power deprives the political parties from the opportunity to reorganize and revise their tactics under the new electoral regulations. Such approach contradicts international standards. As established by the Venice Commission, while alterations of the electoral systems cannot per se be interpreted as a negative phenomenon, it is negative to change it just before the elections. The reason is that such haste, even in the absence of political manipulations, leaves an impression that they are available. In order to avoid it, the Commission recommends that if the Electoral Code is subjected to significant change, the new system should come into force at least one year after the adoption of the new law. It was reaffirmed by the President of Venice Commission in his October 19 statement – pointing to the need to maintain a one-year period for significant changes in the electoral code, such as the abolition of territorial lists.  
Based on the afore-mentioned, the Republican Party of Armenia declares that it  is not in favor of the proposed draft.

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