Armenia: “A Semi-Consolidated Authoritarian Regime”

“Freedom House” human rights organization has published its “Nations in Transit” annual report, according to which Armenia was a semi-consolidated authoritarian regime in 2016 and registered a democratic recession. In particular, the RA democracy score has declined from 5.36 to 5.39, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest.

The overall democracy score is formed by several sub-scores, which separately evaluate the national democratic governance, electoral processes, civil society, independent media, local democratic governance, judicial framework and independence and corruption.

The separate scores for Armenia are the following: national democratic governance – 6, electoral process – 6, civil society – 3.75, independent media – 5.50, local democratic governance – 5.75, judicial framework and independence – 5.50, corruption – 5.25 points. Thus, the democracy score formed by the average of ratings for the aforementioned categories is 5.39.

It is noteworthy that the national democratic governance score has declined from 5.75 to 6.00 since the RA authorities were unable to resolve the grievances (protests) without unjustified use of violence in 2016. The Freedom House report makes particular reference to the large-scale violent police operation on July 28 during the police base takeover events. Moreover, according to Freedom House, the national democratic governance score has been experiencing steady decline in Armenia since 2008, reaching 6.00 from 5.25.

The section of the report addressing judicial framework and independence also mentions about numerous protesters affected by tear gas and stun grenades used by the Police. Though Armenia’s score in this respect is identical with that of the previous year, the report clearly states that the judicial system in Armenia lacks independence and autonomy from the executive.

Armenia’s electoral process score has also suffered a decline, reaching 6.00 from the previous 5.75. The reason is the serious shortcomings during the 2015 referendum and 2016 local elections. Last time Armenia had suffered such a recession after 2008 presidential elections.

The only rating that has improved is Independent Media, due to increased professionalism, diversity and acceptability of internet media, which is challenging the dominance of television as the main source of information.

Hence, according to this report, the only field that has registered progress in Armenia is media, thanks to internet media which is different to control, and thanks to human resources, i.e. enhanced professional skills of journalists. Meanwhile, all the other fields which are under control of public authorities either register stable bad scores or recession.

And the only sector which is in comparably good condition is civil society, which has a much better score than the other branches of the state.

Anna Pambukhchyan
“Union of Informed Citizens”

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