Parliament Factions in Talks Over Election Law Differences

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Factions in the Armenian parliament met behind the closed doors on Wednesday to try to sort out their differences over a new election law–in a last attempt to hammer out compromise a few days before the crucial voting.

The largest Yerkrapah group and most of the minority factions singled out for discussion four main sticking points–which will have a decisive impact on the outcome of the parliamentary elections next year.

Yerkrapah’s draft law provides for legislative elections based on the majoritarian system and government representation on electoral commissions. But an alternative bill–submitted by virtually all Armenia’s other political groups–says most parliament seats must be allocated under the principle of proportional representation. It also calls for a solely partisan basis for the formation of the commissions and serious restrictions on voting by the military.

According to Eduard Yegorian of the Hayrenik group–who spearheads the opposition-dominated multi-party effort–the two rival camps should make" equal concessions."We will go through all controversial points one by one," said a top Yerkrapah lawmaker–Victor Dallakian.

"We will be listening to them today," said Smbat Ayvazian–chairman of the Yerkrapah group. But Ayvazian made it clear that Yerkrapah will not back down from its insistence that at least 60 percent of 131 parliament seats be reserved for single-mandate constituencies.

Some politicians have suggested that an equal share of the two electoral systems could serve as a compromise solution. The parties other than Yerkrapah overwhelmingly believe that proportional representation would render election manipulation more difficult. Yerkrapah’s Dallakian hinted that the faction–loyal to the powerful Defense Minster Vazgen Sarkisian–may compromise on commission formation. "In my view–that’s the most important issue," he told reporters.

The National Assembly will on Monday resume debates on the new election law and is expected to vote on the two drafts shortly thereafter.

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