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Armenia Elections - 1995

The Government's manipulation of the parliamentary elections and the constitutional referendum restricted the ability of citizens to choose and change the laws and officials that govern them. The 190-member National Assembly was chosen in July 1995 in the first postindependence parliamentary elections. Local and international observers characterized them as "generally free, but not fair," and cited deficiencies in the electoral process, including a lack of transparency in vote counting, the suspension of a leading opposition party, and the prevention of 5 opposition parties and over 500 opposition candidates from registering. Manipulation of election procedures by the largely progovernment Central Election Commission (CEC) contributed to the ruling coalition's 80-percent majority in the new Assembly.

Local and international observers described the national parliamentary elections in July as "generally free, but not fair." The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and the regional electoral commissions that administered the elections and the constitutional referendum were stacked with ruling party loyalists. In addition to the Government's suspension of the Dashnak party, the CEC used an ambiguous electoral law to deny registration to several other opposition parties or blocs and over 500 opposition candidates on minor technicalities. The CEC ruled on many cases shortly before election day, thereby denying some candidates a fair chance to appeal the CEC's decision.

The Government also used its monopoly of the media to devote extensive coverage to a campaign to adopt the draft constitution and deny equal time to dissenting views. Opposition parties had limited access to government media, and media coverage of the constitutional referendum options was skewed. On the positive side, the electorate actively participated in the polling. Several opposition parties did mount credible campaigns and were able to seat some deputies in the new Parliament.

Local and international observers expressed concern about outdated voter registration lists, voter intimidation in some districts, poor ballot security, and the lack of transparency during the final vote count by the CEC. The subcommittees of the CEC that counted the votes on the constitutional referendum comprised only representatives of the progovernment parties; all opposition members of the CEC were assigned to a separate subcommittee that was dispatched to outlying regions, and were not able to return to Yerevan when the session to count referendum votes was suddenly announced. Also, the progovernment majority on the CEC regularly voted down opposition appeals concerning the fairness of the voting.

In general, local and international observers had good access to polling sites, and local election officials made conscientious efforts to adhere to proper polling procedures. Registered opposition parties and candidates were given limited free access to government media and some were able to mount credible campaigns. Some Dashnak party members were allowed to run as independent candidates. Under the new Constitution, the President appoints the Prime Minister and had considerable influence in appointing judges. The Constitution provides for independent legislative and judicial branches, but in practice these branches are not insulated from political pressure from the executive branch. The Constitution gave local communities the right to elect local authorities, but stipulates that the Government appoints regional governors, and the President appointed the Mayor of Yerevan. Under the transitional provisions of the Constitution, the Parliament (National Assembly), had the right to express no confidence in the heads of city and regional councils, until a law on local governance is adopted.

The National Assembly is to operate as a part-time institution for the duration of its first term. Approximately one-third of the parliamentarians have been designated full-time deputies. Parliament also has a truncated work schedule for its first term. Sessions may be called, but may not last more than 6 days.

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Page last modified: 02-04-2017 14:40:18 ZULU