Election Commission Maps Out New Districts

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–With only three months remaining before parliamentary elections–Central Election Commission Sunday drew the map of 75 single-mandate constituencies in accordance with the new legislation. The election law–which formally came into effect the same day–allocates 75 seats in the next 131-member parliament under the majoritarian system.

The current National Assembly–elected in 1995–has 190 deputies–with 150 of them elected in single-mandate districts. The new election law has increased from 40 to 56 the number of seats reserved for the proportional system–by far less than demanded by the opposition.

The CEC’s decision was based on voter lists submitted by local authorities. They bring the total number of eligible voters to over 2.2 million. One third of electoral districts–25–will be located in the capital Yerevan and the rest scattered across the country. CEC chairman Khachatur Bezirjian told RFE/RL that the drawing of constituencies was approved by all members of the commission representing various political parties.

Some opposition leaders have alleged that the total number of Armenian voters has been exaggerated leaving large room for vote rigging–a claim Bezirjian rejected. Manipulation of voter lists has been a major source of reported irregularities in the past. It remains to be seen whether they will be verified before the polls get underway on May 30.

Bezirjian said the current CEC’s duties expire on April 25–the day when a new commission is to take over. The next CEC is widely expected to remain controlled by supporters of President Robert Kocharian–the election law being the main reason.

The bill–drafted by the pro-government majority in parliament–has been harshly criticized by leading opposition parties and some Kocharian allies. The opposition says it favors Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia–which is in control of most government bodies.


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