30 Oct 2018 14:52

EU ambassador to Yerevan regrets parliament's rejection of govt amendments to Electoral Code

YEREVAN. Oct 30 (Interfax) - The Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Piotr Switalski, is disappointed that the government-proposed amendments to the Electoral Code have been rejected by the Armenian parliament.

The amendments gained the support of the Venice Commission and incorporated recommendations of the Council of Europe, Switalski told the press on Tuesday.

A chance to reform the Electoral Code was missed, he said. However, the EU appreciates the efforts of the government and the experts who elaborated the amendments. It will help organize early parliamentary elections in Armenia, he added.

On Monday, the parliament again rejected amendments authored by the government and proposed as a basis for holding parliamentary elections in December.

Sixty-two deputies voted to amend the Electoral Code, and one was against. Sixty-three votes were needed for passage.

The Republican Party of former president Serzh Sargsyan, which currently holds a majority in the parliament, opposed the amendments.

The government-proposed amendments would cancel the current ranked-voting system and reduce the threshold for parties from 5% to 4% and from 7% to 6% for party blocs. The parliament would have to guarantee representation to at least four political forces instead of the current three, and the fourth force would require 2% of the vote to win representation.

At least 30% of the members of the new parliament would have to be women, against the current 25%.

The 105-seat parliament is currently comprised of four factions.

The opposition faction of the former ruling Republican Party controls 50 mandates.

The Tsarukyan (Prosperous Armenia) faction, which is led by a major Armenian businessman, Gagik Tsarukyan, holds 31 mandates.

The Dashnaktsutyun faction comprises seven lawmakers, and the Yelk faction nine. The Yelk faction is comprised of three parties, including Civil Contract, led by acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Eight other parliamentarians, who left the Republican Party's faction after the change of government, do not belong to any faction.