YEREVAN (ARKA)—Armenia’s National Assembly approved a package of constitutional reforms today that introduce a plan to change the governance system of the country from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic. The document will be put to a national referendum later this year. The final vote for the package was 104 to 10, with 3 abstentions.
According to the proposed changes, the president of Armenia, whose powers will be significantly curtailed, is elected for a term of seven years (instead of the current five) by the parliament, not in a national vote. Presidents will be limited to one term of office. To be elected in the first round the candidate must be backed by three-fourths of votes. If this cannot be done, the candidate must be elected by three-fifths of votes. If the candidate fails to garner enough votes, they will be elected by a majority of all deputies.
According to the proposed changes, the president of Armenia would be head of state, embodying national unity and ensuring the observance of the Constitution. They cannot be a member of a political party.
Under the proposed changes the president is to appoint a candidate for prime minister of the party or party bloc that wins parliamentary elections. If parliamentary forces are unable to agree on the candidacy of the head of government, parliament is to be dissolved. A vote of no-confidence in the prime minister can be passed no sooner than a year after their appointment.
According to the published document, the armed forces are subordinated to the government, and the prime minister is the supreme commander of the armed forces in times of war.
The proposed changes stipulate that parliament members are elected for five years by a proportional system. The unicameral parliament is to consist of at least 101 members (instead of the current 131). This means that 41 single-seat constituencies must be abolished. The new parliament must have representatives of national minorities.