Prosperous Armenia Joins ARF, Heritage in Call for Electoral Reform

The joint letter submitted to parliament leadership

YEREVAN—The parliamentary faction of Prosperous Armenia, a partner in the coalition government, on Thursday joined the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Heritage Party in calling for a 100-percent proportional electoral system, a change proposed by the latter two parties last month.

In a written application, the three parliamentary factions, appealed to the Parliament Speaker and the Chairman of the State and Legal Affairs Standing Committee of the Parliament.

In a joint announcement in December the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia and the Heritage Party Executive Committee proposed the removal of the single-seat constituency component for parliamentary elections and adopting a 100-percent proportional representation system.

The current law distributes 90 of the 131 parliament seats on the proportional (party) system, while the remaining 40 parliament members are elected through single-seat constituency.

The two parties said the joint announcement was the culmination of collaboration between the two parliamentary opposition forces on election reform that started in 2008.

The two parties said they proposed the change after assessing the importance of the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for May 2012 and the need to expand the political parties’ responsibility in the elections process.

The two parties insisted that the extension of the proportional representation to the entire parliament will create safeguards against voter fraud. The two parties also argued that in a proportional system voter intimidation and vote buying would be curtailed, contending that currently the majority of the single-mandate seats are held by wealthy pro-government individuals.

The statement said that if the government accepts this demand then it will demonstrate that it is serious in its pledge to ensure proper electoral conduct, as it has voiced on numerous occasions.

Soon after the joint declaration, ARF leader Armen Rustamyan said the ball was in the government’s court, explaining that the authorities stand to benefit if the current system remains.

He added that the single-seat mandate is the government’s way of isolating the opposition from the parliament and gives the authorities an uneven advantage in the electoral process.

A rejection by the authorities of the opposition proposal, Rustamyan said, would demonstrate that the current leadership does not want reform and would like to ensure its continued hold on the country through voter manipulation.

He explained that a government rejection would isolate the authorities from the rest of the country.

The two parties called on forces within and outside of parliament to support this initiative.

At the time, the Armenian National Congress welcomed the effort calling it an “important and necessary step toward ensuring the legitimacy and transparency of the elections.”

Last week, ARF parliament member Artsvik Minasyan said that there were constitutional obstacles to reforming the electoral system in Armenia, explaining that Armenia’s Constitution did not have provisions on either proportional or single-seat constituency election systems.

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