YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Armenia’s National Assembly on Wednesday voted down a bill that would reform Armenia’s Electoral Code by mandating a 100-percent proportional electoral system for the legislature.
The bill, sponsored by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Heritage Party, was struck down by a vote 56 to 30 with four abstentions. Most deputies from the Prosperous Armenia Party, a member of the governing coalition, who attending the parliament session voted in favor of the amendment.
The vote was initially scheduled to take place Tuesday, but it was postponed due to lack of attendance by members of parliament. Those in attendance did continue a debate, which began last week.
Under the current electoral code, 90 of the 131 members of parliament are elected on the proportional system, while the remaining 41 members are elected on the single-mandate. The opposition, in its joint announcement in December, said that the single mandate systems opens the door for broad election violations and asserted that a 100-percent proportional system would minimize voter harassment and vote rigging.
The ARF, Heritage, the grass-roots voter empowerment group “Vote is Power,” and members of the non-parliamentary opposition group the Armenian National Congress staged a protest Tuesday outside Parliament demanding the passage of the reform resolution.
ARF Supreme Council of Armenia representative and parliamentary bloc member Armen Rustamian addressed the crowd gathered outside of Parliament saying that the effort to ensure fair elections must be carried out both within and outside the legislature.
“The adoption of a 100% proportional election system is the first precondition to having fair elections,” he said adding that the single-seat constituency system is the main obstacle to achieving that goal.
Also speaking at Tuesday’s rally was ARF parliamentary bloc chairman Vahan Hovanessian who said that regardless of the vote outcome, it was clear that Armenian voters were ready and able to monitor the elections to ensure a fair vote.
After Wednesday’s vote, members of the ARF and Heritage said they should be ready to work together and immediately respond to voter irregularities.
Rustamian told RFE/RL that opposition forces should try to win seats in the single-mandate districts, which have been mainly won by wealthy candidates with government ties.