European Commission for Democracy through Law (usually referred to as Venice Commission), which is an advisory body of the Council of Europe, followed by the RA Government, has recently published the Draft of the RA Electoral Code. After a careful examination of the Draft, the “Union of Informed Citizens” singled out the most interesting innovations.
Electoral Districts and Formation of Local Government Bodies:
- There shall be 13 electoral districts instead of the previous 41. Four of them shall be located in Yerevan and nine in the regions (Vayots Dzor and Syunik regions shall represent one electoral district).
- City Councils of Gyumri and Vanadzor shall be elected by proportional representation system as is the case with Yerevan. There are no considerable changes regarding other communities.
- Except for the aforementioned three largest cities, the election and voting procedures for heads of communities and the councils have remained the same.
Formation of the National Assembly:
- The minimum number of Deputies of the National Assembly shall be 101.
- If any of the political parties has received 53 mandates as a result of the elections, the National Assembly shall be considered to be elected and shall have 101 Deputies.If none of the political parties receives 53 mandates, the mandates shall be distributed and a second round of election shall be held.
- The political parties and party alliances shall represent one national proportional electoral list and 13 district electoral lists (one for each district).
- Half of the mandates received by the political party shall be given to the candidates of the national electoral list in the order given. The remaining part of the mandates shall be distributed among the candidates of district electoral lists of the parties.
- The second round of election shall be held on the 21st day after the voting. Two political parties and alliances, having received the maximum number of votes during the first round, shall have the right to run in the second round of election. The political party or alliance having won in the second round shall receive as many additional mandates so that the total number of its Deputies forms 54% of the National Assembly.
- At the same time, if any party or alliance of political parties receives more than 2/3 of the total number of mandates, other political parties or alliances shall receive as many additional mandates so that they have at least 1/3 of the total number of mandates at the National Assembly.
- Additional mandates are envisaged for national minorities as well.
Control over the Election
- The number of local observers and mass media representatives that may be present in the voting room at the same has been limited to eight.
- Foreign diplomatic representations in Armenia have been deprived of the right to carry out an observation mission.
- Precinct electoral commissions obtain the right to withdraw proxies and observers from the polling station.
- Voter registration shall be carried out through an electronic system by a technical specialist who will be present in the polling station. Voters shall be able to register with ordinary passports, biometric passports and identification cards.The system will check whether the citizen’s name is included in the electoral roll and make sure the voter has not voted yet. Besides, if a citizen votes with a biometric passport or ID card, the photo of the voter will appear on the computer screen.If the system recognizes the voter and gives a right to vote, a voting pass is automatically printed and is handed over to the member of the commission carrying out the registration of voters.
- During National Assembly, as well as Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor City Council elections, the citizens shall be given colored ballot papers. Each political party (or alliance) shall have its own color and the citizen shall put his/her preferred color ballot into the envelope, thereby casting their vote. During the aforementioned elections, envelopes shall be documents subject to special record-keeping.
- During proportional representation elections, the voter can carry out preferential voting on the opposite side of the ballot paper of his preferred political party (if desired). Before enabling the voter to drop the ballot envelope into the ballot box, the ballot envelope shall be punched with a special puncher (instead of a stamp).
“Union of Informed Citizens”
This article was prepared within the framework of the program implemented by “Union of Informed Citizens” NGO through the financial support of Open Society Foundations-Armenia. The views expressed in the article reflect those of the authors and may not coincide with the views and positions of the Open Society Foundations-Armenia.