YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The ruling National Assembly bloc has secured a new safeguard for its grip on power after the parliament approved its favored election law–Monday in a vote that may usher the country in a new period of political confrontation.
By a vote of 96 to 72–the National Assembly preferred the election bill of its largest Yerkrapah faction over the one favored by a large and diverse grouping of parties representing Armenia’s almost entire political spectrum.
The vote came after several days of fruitless talks between the two rival camps disagreeing over how to elect the next parliament and form election commissions. Yerkrapah wants 60 percent of 131 parliament seats to be allocated in single-mandate constituencies and a presence of various-level government officials in the commissions. But the alternative "unified" draft–backed by 11 parties–favors the proportional system and a solely partisan basis for the commissions’ formation.
The bill passed by the parliament in the first reading has been largely backed by President Kocharian who views Yerkrapah as his support base in the current legislature. However–Kocharian’s second major ally–the nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation–has effectively voiced its support for the unified bill.