Armenia - Parliament votes to defeat opposition-proposed changes in Election Code

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Armenian lawmakers on Tuesday voted 54 to 59, with four abstentions, to reject a bill calling for the abolishment of parliamentary elections held under the so-called majoritarian system.

The 131-member National Assembly of Armenia today is formed through two types of ballots – those in which individual candidates with or without party affiliations are elected from single-member constituencies, or under the “majoritarian” system of representation (a total of 41) and those held under the proportional system of representation or by party lists (90 members).

Majoritarian ballots have long been a target of criticism by Armenia’s main opposition parties that regard this type of election as an impediment to the true political process as campaigns in single-mandate constituencies rarely follow political patterns. They also regard them as a tool for the ruling party to ensure its majority even if it fails to win one through party-list elections.

Supporters of majoritarian ballots, on the contrary, argue that in the absence of a bicameral parliament in Armenia elections from single-seat constituencies ensure representation of all voters and regions and a direct link between voters and their elected representatives.

Only members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia voted against the proposed reform, which is one of the key demands of the current anti-government campaign launched by the three minority parties (the Prosperous Armenia Party, the Armenian National Congress and Heritage) commonly known as Troika.

The three parties as well as two other minority factions, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and Orinats Yerkir, voted in favor of the motion, but their votes proved not enough for the initiative to pass. The same bill presented by the ARF in May was also defeated in a similar vote.

The Troika parties view the electoral reform as a major prerequisite for dialogue with the government. Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan late last month indicated that the government was ready to discuss a transition to a 100-percent proportional system of representation in parliamentary elections. 

SOURCE: Armenianow.com, December 2nd, 2014, http://www.armenianow.com/news/politics/58975/armenia_parliament_electio...