The PEOPLES’ revolution in Armenia through peaceful demonstrations that started about a month ago, ended on May the second when Nikol Pashinyan the 42-year-old leader of the movement called on demonstrators to return to their normal life. A wise decision indeed.
Pashinyan did so after the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) which has a majority in the Parliament and has been in power for almost two decades has agreed to support Pashinyan’s candidacy as the next Prime Minister (PM) of Armenia that is scheduled on May 8. Needless to say, with RPA’s support, Pashinyan’s election as the new PM is a safe bet.
After the election, the new PM will have 20 days to form a new government and seek the approval of the Parliament. To be able to do that, Pashinyan has to negotiate with all the Parties presented in the parliament for the formation of a transitional government.
Yes, the next government could be just a transitional government and its main task will be to organize a fair and transparent parliamentary election. Pashinyan has said that he prefers to do it as early as two months’ time but he is flexible to negotiate with parliamentary factions for a more acceptable time if need be.
But before the parliamentary election, Pashinyan has said also that there will be an electoral code amendment in favor of Members of Parliament being elected as the representatives of the PEOPLE and not as the representatives of the Political Parties which is the case now. I will add to include also, and especially, the election of the Regional Governors, Մարզպետ, that currently are appointed by the Prime Minister.
RPA will be wise to support the new electoral code if they want to salvage any credibility in the country. It is time to end the Party hegemony Կուսակցատիրութիւն (as if we did not have enough of it) and reintroduce PEOPLE’s representation, ԺՈՂՈՒՈՒՐԴ-ա-վառութիւն, and the time is NOW.
Changing only the electoral code is not a major constitutional change like let us say changing the so cold Parliamentary System back to a Presidential System. Changing the parliamentary system should not be even on the agenda.
First and foremost it is important to have the PEOPLE’s mandate to make major changes to the constitution. Neither RPA nor the new government will have that mandate. That mandate could come only through fair and transparent parliamentary elections that Armenia never had since the first presidential election in 1991. It is time we have one, the sooner the better.
It will be prudent for all parties represented in the parliament to support this amendment. It is basically a system that is used in most of the democracies in the world including Canada and the United States. If they fail to do so, Pashinyan will have no other choice but to call a referendum to have the PEOPLES’ approval.
(I have written about this issue a few times in my previous Monologues, especially during the rigged constitutional referendum and during elections. The last one is dated January 23 2018 and titled “If I was an intellectual” and no need to delve into it again)
As I said earlier Electoral code reform, and setting a date for the parliamentary elections, must be the first priority of the new transitional government. Judging from what I have seen and heard so far from Pashinyan, he seems to be sincere and eager to organize such a fair and transparent election and every concerned Armenian should help to make it a true success.
To avoid any political favoritism it will be prudent if an Electoral Commission is formed with technocrats with no affiliation with the Political Parties. It could include some none partisan Armenians from the diaspora with expertise and experience in the electoral systems.
Nikol Pashinyan’s second and bigger challenge will be to find a way to bring the massive popular support, especially from the young generation, from the street to the ballot box.
To be able to do that, he must start to organize electoral committees in every electoral region and in each electoral riding and train young volunteers to supervise each polling station from the start of the voting to the end, including the counting of the votes. This is the best way to proof verify the legitimacy of the election.
He does not need even to be Prime Minister to be able to do so. He could do it as the leader of the very successful Popular Movement. Needless to say, every Party that participates in the election should do the same. The constitution gives them that right. It is the law.
There is nothing new here, it is the norm in most democracies including that of Canada and the United States which I am fairly familiar. After 27 years of independence, it is about time for the Republic of Armenia to be part of that “norm”. It is long overdue.
Let me end by saying that the PEOPLE living in Armenia, the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, are Armenia. Improving their social well-being in a free and just society will help improve their sense of belonging and that will be the biggest security for the country, and the biggest barrier for the out-migration from their homeland.
With the current massive popular uprising, they have earned the right to say and repeat Մենք ենք տէրը մեր երկրին. Loosely translated “We are masters of our country” It is time to go beyond the slogans and earn it through their vote.
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian