Constitutional Committee Begins Balance of Power Discussion

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The presidential committee for constitutional amendmen’s started discussing the issues regarding the relations between different branches of power–in particular–the president-government relations.

The president submitted two variants of constitutional reforms for the committee’s discussion. Opinions also differed in the committee’s working group. The committee’s chairman–Baruyr Hayrikian supports the presidential direct control over the executive power. At the committee’s meeting July 3 he proposed that the presidential and prime minister’s posts should be combined. Some of the working group’s members–including the Constitutional Court member–Felix Tokhian–think that to accept this variant is not advisable.

According to Tokhian–the combination of the presidential and prime minister’s posts is one of the features of the so called strong–purely presidential power–therefore the acceptation of such variant involves serious changes in the Constitution. Meanwhile–the president points out in his variant of the Constitutional reforms that there is no need for adopting a new constitution–but particular amendmen’s should be made in the current Constitution.

The specialist on the Constitutional law–Felix Tokhian thinks that the combination of the presidential and prime minister’s posts is one of the accepted government systems based on the American model which is not practiced in Europe. It is operating in Belarus and Georgia.

According to him–the new independent states to not have the important elemen’s to balance all the mechanisms of power. Hence–there is a threat that such a government system will lead to the president’s personal rule.

Tokhian says that there is a number of concomitant factors here: The civil society as such and political parties system haven’t formed yet–the judicial system as an independent power has failed–and the press has not reached the level to really play the role of the fourth estate.

The combination of the presidential and prime minister’s functions requires greater efforts from the president. The president–taking control of the executive power–takes upon himself all the social and economic slips–public discontent. The grave situation delivers a blow to the president elected by the people–which may also become a serious problem. The state government system stipulated by the current Constitution is characterized as a mixed–semi-presidential government system–in the Constitution theory and–according to Tokhian–it would be correct to preserve it with making some changes to it.

He said that the absence of the juridical definition of the president as the head of the state is one of the shortcomings of the current Constitution and a clear definition of this constitutional norm should be given in the presidential status provisions.

Tohkian believed that the Constitution should give the prime minister and the government more independence in actions. Tokhian finds it necessary that the president’s powers should be restricted in the issues of forming the government–approving its structure and activities. It is especially advisable that the National Assembly should participate in these important processes.

Therefore it is desirable that the structure of the government and its activities should be established by the law (not by the president’s decrees)–and the prime minister appointed after being approved by the Parliament (candidates are proposed by the president). The grounds and conditions of the government’s resignation should be specified.

In particular–it should be clarified that in case of prime minister’s resignation–death or relieving of post the entire cabinet must resign.

The president-government relations is only one part of the state government system.

Tokhian found that–by making amendmen’s in the Constitution–the president-government-Parliament-Constitutional Court relations should be specified.

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