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PACE Delegation: Referendum in Armenia was driven by political interests


Andreas Gross
Andreas Gross

Photo: RFE/RL


Yerevan /Mediamax/. Delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) stated that referendum on constitutional reforms "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”.

A cross-party delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was present in Armenia from 4 to 7 December 2015 to observe the referendum on constitutional reforms.

The delegation was headed by Andreas Gross (Switzerland, SOC) and also included Doris Fiala (Switzerland) and Alan Meale (United Kingdom), rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee.

“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”, the Delegation reported.
 
Delegation also mentioned several problems that occurred on the voting day, in particular:
 
- the inaccuracy of the voting lists containing the names of many people residing permanently abroad or even deceased, leading to claims that these identities were usurped by people who then voted several times;

- allegations of large-scale organized vote buying and carousel voting as well as pressure on voters;

- the misuse of administrative resources by executive bodies;

- allegations of pressure on, and attempts to corrupt, election officials.

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