Legislative Initiative is Aimed at Improving the Electoral System: Vahagn Hovakimyan
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The legislative package is aimed at solving the problems emerged after the reforms implemented in the Electoral Code. The Deputy Chair of the NA Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs Vahagn Hovakimyan said about that during the parliamentary hearings held on June 23. The draft law on Making Amendments and Addenda to the constitutional law the RA Electoral Code and the package of the enclosed package of the draft laws.

Presenting the main provisions of the legislative initiative, Vahagn Hovakimyan noted that the results of the local self-government elections showed that during the elections being organized by one common ballot paper the number of the invalid ballot papers is incomparably bigger than in case of elections being organized with different ballot papers (with the model of the National Assembly elections). Hence, the model being organized with different ballot papers was proposed to introduce in case of proportional electoral system. It was also proposed to provide live broadcast from the polling stations during the self-government bodies’ proportional elections.

According to the rapporteur, through the proportional electoral system during the self-government bodies’ elections the experience of forming the pre-electoral funds of the parties in the private banks showed that numerous problems appeared in terms of the pre-election funds management, the financial control, providing transparency, as well as ensuring the same use of the legislation. It is proposed by the initiative to open the pre-electoral funds in the Central Bank, which will essentially facilitate the processes of the pre-electoral financing management and organization of the parties.

To solve the problems emrging during the first sittings of the Council of Elders it is proposed to apply the Institute of the NA First Session: the political force that received more votes will be given the right to preside over the sitting in the first session.

According to Vahagn Hovakimyan, they denied the institute of voting with the mobile ballot boxes designed for the voters being under inpatient treatment, which contains a number of speculation risks. It will be used exceptionally for the persons being in the arresting place on voting day.

Another provision of the initiative proposes to comply the Article 42 of the Code with the Article 195 of the Constitution: i.e. not to set additional requirements for the candidate of the member of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC).

Highlighting the public discussion in terms of recruiting the opinions, the RA Deputy Minister of Justice presented the observation of the executive body. He touched upon the necessity of the electoral procedure establishing the specialized organization chosen by the Government, later for being deprived from speculations. He considered problematic the video and simultaneous online broadcasting of the voting procedure from the polling stations and the summing process of the voting results, noting that all polling stations are not provided with corresponding technique and possibilities.

Referring to the observations of the executive body, Vahagn Hovakimyan presented some clarifications on the introduction of the institute of different ballots, furnishing of polling stations, joint observation.

Answering the questions of the representatives of the civil society participating in the parliamentary hearings, Yeranuhi Tumanyants informed that the Ministry of Justice took an inventory of problems on a thematic basis, based on all the opinions submitted by the observation missions in 2018 and 2021, including the opinions of the OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission. The technical collection of the inventory problems has been submitted to the Government. The Government Programme for 2021-2026 envisages having a project developed on the basis of inventory problems, and an agreement was reached with international partners to organize the process.

Vahagn Hovhannisyan added that the legislative initiative aimed at improving the electoral system, so that the electoral system is able to ensure free, fair and transparent elections. The speaker stressed the importance of the opinions of international experts in case of institutional changes. He also clarified the issues related to the procedure for electing the head of the community, the refusal of the institute of voting by mobile ballot box, the pre-election campaign and the processes preceding it, the educational requirement presented to the CEC member.

The CEC elections will be held in the near future and if you aspire to become the CEC Chairman. In response to the question, Vahagn Hovakimyan noted that the faction proposes the candidates for the CEC Chairman and member. At this moment, the faction does not have any decision or proposal.

In their speeches, the participants appreciated the organization of parliamentary hearings on the legislative package, stressed the importance of maintaining feedback with both extra-parliamentary political forces and civil society in order to have quality legislation.

The CEC Chairman Tigran Mukuchyan noted that the parliamentary hearings are a good platform to voice the presented approaches and to find solutions on them. He noted that everyone’s goal is to have perfect legal norms, supplementing and completing the field of electoral legal relations.

“We should improve our legislation so that law-abiding political forces have the opportunity to develop,” Vahagn Hovakimyan mentioned in his final speech.

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