Armenia and the New Constitution (Part 3)

I must say that I followed the referendum process for the New Constitution of Republic of Armenia on the internet, and the falsifications that I saw, makes me think that, this New Constitution is at least a questionable, if not an illegitimate document, and as such, the citizens of Armenia might have the right to dis obey it.

Needless to say this vote was not like any other Presidential, Parliamentary, or Municipal elections that you can vote the culprits out of office , when their term is over.

This is the Constitution that all of the citizens of Armenia will live with, and some for the rest of their lives. Unless of course, you consider the Constitution to be a document that you can abolish, or change, at the will of the “strong man” of the country, which seems to be the case in this instance.

I think this new Constitution and the referendum were both untimely and unnecessary. There were no major shortcomings to necessitate a new constitution that changes the current Presidential regime, to a Parliamentary regime, that basically is a Prime-Ministerial regime. Needless to say the new regime brings no any new benefits, or new hope, for a better future for the majority of the citizens of Armenia.

What I have learned was that, the previous Constitution was a fine document that clearly defined the roles of the three branches of the governance, Legislative, Executive, and independent Judiciary. As long as this 3 principals are upheld, I do not care if the system is Presidential or Prime-Ministerial

But the reality was, and still is, different. The laws in Armenia are not followed properly by the authorities, and worse yet, there are no well organized  Opposition Parties to factually hold the law breakers accountable, including the President, the Parliament, and the Judiciary. This was the problem,and unfortunately still is, and not, the Constitution.

Needless to say this was a golden opportunity for the mismatched  Opposition Parties to campaign vigorously to defeat the Constitution with a NO vote, but they failed miserably. Maybe it is not too late for them, to make the falsification of the vote (not the regime change that they are perusing through street demonstrations with dwindling numbers) the main issue to pursue, through all legal means, and also, through peaceful public disobedient acts, and do it continuously, and vigorously.

The two issues that bothered me the most, and still do, were the appointments of the Regional Governors,  and the 100% proportional representation.

The Regional Governors “Մարզպէտ” are appointed by the President and most of them are corrupt bullies, or chief oligarchs of the regions, who consider themselves to be above the law. In fact they believe that, they are the law, and they are the absolute plunderers of the regional resources.

It is irrelevant who, or how the Governors  get appointed, the main issue is that, the regional governors should not be appointed, rather, they should be elected by the voters and accountable to them. At least the new constitution could have rectified this undemocratic process but did not, and thus, it “re-legalized” the corruption, theft, and the bull-ism.

The second issue was that, the 60% of the Members of Parliament  (MPs) were elected by proportional voting system, and the 40% were elected by so cold first past the post voting system. (Canada and USA use 100% first past the post system). The new Constitution changed the previous system to 100% proportional system.

The proportional system in Armenia is that, during the Parliamentary elections, the Political Parties (PARTY) presents a list of their candidates (appointed by the the Party leadership), and the eligible citizens vote for the PARTY, and according to the the proportion of the votes that the PARTY gets, their appointees will become MPs starting from the top of the list. Later on, the PARTY leadership at their discretion could remove one or more MPs, and the next appointee on the list, becomes the new MP.

This is pure and simple a PARTY appointed Parliament without any people’s representation either locally, (at riding level, where the MP resides in the riding and represent the riding electorate) or similarly, at the regional level. (There are other fairer forms of proportional voting systems, where the peoples representation is the dominant part of the law). 

Despite all the hollow rhetoric of better representation, with this new Constitution, Armenia will be governed with a Soviet style Party Democracy, “Կուսակցատիրութիւն” led by non-elected, and intellectually challenged, party apparatchiks, “back room boys”, at the expense of the people’s  democracy, “Ժողովրդավառութիւն”.

Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian

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