Armenia constitutional referendum driven by political interests: PACE

Armenia constitutional referendum driven by political interests: PACE

PanARMENIAN.Net - A cross-party delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) observed the referendum on constitutional reforms in Armenia, which took place on December 6 and led to a new constitution, the PACE website reports.

After a somewhat low-key campaign with little public debate and a calm referendum day, according to preliminary results, around 64% voters cast ballots in favor of the changes, thus meeting the quorum of 25% of the registered voters needed to approve the changes.

“The relatively low turn-out, around 50% of the population, reflects the fact that the referendum was driven by political interests instead of the needs of the Armenian public and was perceived by many citizens as a vote of confidence in the government rather than on the many proposals for change. The two-and-a-half-year reform process was not inclusive enough, the parliament having only a few weeks to discuss the text and public debate being limited to two months, making it difficult for an agreement to be reached. Thus, the core of the constitutional change - the shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system - was understood by too many citizens as being a means for the current president to remain in power after the end of his second (and what would have been final) term,” PACE says.

Concerning the voting process, the Assembly statement notes, the delegation regrets that the authorities were not more concerned by the integrity of the process leading to a new constitution.

While in Armenia, the delegation met leaders and representatives of parliamentary groups and parties, the Chairperson of the CEC, representatives of civil society and the media as well as OSCE/ODIHR experts.

Andreas Gross (Switzerland, SOC), head of delegation, Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE), Alan Meale (United Kingdom, SOC), rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee were included in the delegation.

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