Communities Finance Officers Association
Proposals of the Civic Engagement in Local Government (CELoG) Consortium on draft Electoral Code Proposals of the Civic Engagement in Local Government (CELoG) Consortium on draft Electoral Code
  1. Point 2 of the Article 105, Chapter 19, Section 5 of the draft states that during the community council elections there will be one multi-mandate majoritarian electoral district in the community.

Proposal: In multi-settlement communities it is necessary to define a special regulation providing an opportunity to have at least one representative in the community council from each settlement in case of their nomination.

Justification. Currently there is the community amalgamation pilot program being implemented in Armenia.  Upon completion of this program the GoAM envisions to consolidate all small communities. This will result in foring of multi-settlement communities. In terms of participatory democracy it is of key importance the direct connection of the population with the representatives of the community councils they have  elected. In multi-settlement communities this issue can be solved via ensuring the presence of at least one representative from each settlement in the community council.   These representatives being inhabitants of the setlement will be more aware of the problems of the settlement and will have a better opportunity to represent the interests of the settlement in the community council during the decision making process, will voice out social-economic problems of the settlements and propose more effective solutions. The draft Eectoral Code proposes similar mechanism for the National Assembly via proposing territorial candidate lists for the parties.

 

  1. The point 1 in Article 27, chapter 27 on the nomination and registration of community council members in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor states that the right to nominate community council member candidates in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor belongs to political parties and political alliances.

Proposal: To allow the civil society sector to nominate community council member cndidaes in mentioned communities via establishment of civic initiatives to participate in local elections. It is important that these initiatives are formed spontaneously with the only purpose to participate in local elections via collection of defined number of signatures of the community inhabitants who have the voting right.

Justification: This opportunity will appease the total politization of the LG system, will make the population more active in terms of participation in local government and will promote transparency and accountability of the governance o local level. It will also enhance the process of cooperation between the community population and LG bodies and will have a positive impact on the decision making process.

  1. Point 1 of the Article 5, Chapter 1 of the Draft deicated to the direct voting right states that local self-government bodies excluding heads of Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor communities are elected directly by the voters.

Proposal. To exclude Gyumri and Vanadzor communities from the list not falling under the regulation above.

Justification. According to the acting electoral system heads of Gyumri and Vanadzor communites are being elected directly by the voters. The proposal of the draft Electoral Code is a step back from the existing democratic norm which has already became a traditional norm. The proposed change will result in reduction of trust among the population towards the local self-government and will cause apathy. Along with this the quantitative reduction of the participation of population in the electoral processes will harm the participatory democracy, local democracy and will reduce public interest towards the local authorities of these communities. This will result in a situation where LSGBs are less representative with all the risks following from it.

  1. Subpoints of 3rd point of the Article 105, Chapter 19, Section 5 states that the community council consists of

5) 15 members in communities with 10,000 to 70,000 voters,

6) 35 members in communities with more than 70,000 voters.

Proposal:  To replace the 5th sub-pint with the following sub-points:

5.1) 13 members in communities with 10,000 to 20,000 voters,

5.2) 15 members in communities with 20,000 to 30,000 voters,

5.3) 17 members in communities with 30,000 to 40,000 voters,

5.4) 21 members in communities with 40,000 to 50,000 voters,

5.5) 25 members in communities with 50,000 to 60,000 voters,

5.6) 29 members in communities with 60,000 to 70,000 voters.

Justification.

  1. The above mentioned scale provides the voters from the communities with the number of voters 10,000 to 70,000 with a more righteous way to form their community councils defining the number of the community council members more proportionally to the total number of voters in the community.
  2. Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor are the only communities with the total number of voters exeding 70,000. These communities have a separate regulation in the draft Electoral Code. In case of this fact being taken into account by the draft, the number of community council members in Yerevan is more than identified in the draft.

 

  1. Proposal: To apply the obligation of knowledge of the Armenian language and the obligation of having higher education towards the head of communities candidates as it is obliged for the National Assembly member candidates in the 1st part of the Article 80, and Point 8 of the Article 83 of the Draft.

 

  1. The 3rd point of the Article 129 of the Draft states “ the documents attached to the application of the parties for community council elections in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor…”, however the attachments listed afterwards equally relate to both parties and party alliances.

Proposal: To reformulate The 3rd point of the Article 129 of the Draft “the documents attached to the application of the parties and party alliances for community council elections in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor…”.

Justification: Without the proposed addition it is unclear what documents should be introduced by the party alliances and despite the fact that in following part the “party alliance” formulation is repeated several times the definition of the 3rd point contradicts to the following enumeration and other provisions as well.

 

  1. The 6th subpoint of the 3rd point, Article 129 of the draft states that the documents attached to the application of the parties for community council elections in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor include electoral pledge of 3000 times of the minimum salary in case of Yerevan and electoral pledge of 2000 times of the minimum salary in case of Gymri and Vanadzor.

 

Proposal: It is necessary to reduce the electoral pledge for community council membership electoral list in Gyumri and Vanadzor so that it will be the 10% of similar electoral pledge envisioned for Yerevan, i.e. 300 times of the minimum salary.

 

Justification: Taking into account the lower level of interest of the political parties towards local elections in Gyumri and Vanadzor as compared to Yerevan, as well as the number of population, poverty level of Gyumri and Vanadzor as compared to Yerevan setting 2000 times of the minimum salary as the electoral pledge in Gyumri and Vanadzor might become a serious obstacle for relatively less financialy sustainable  political parties and party alliances. In case of setting the proposed electoral pledge in Gyumri and Vanadzor it is highly possible that parties/alliances with significant financial resources will be able to participate in elections in Gyumri and Vanadzor community council elections. In addition it will be more justified to set the electoral pledge not as a filter or as a mean to replenish the budget but to illustrate the seriousness of intention of the political bid. From this point it is more expedient to set a more symbolic electoral pledge. The proposed change will allow to enhance political competition during the elections in Gyumri and Vanadzor communities.

 

  1. The Article 136 of the Draft on pre-electoral campaign in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor communities the conditions of campaign for the community council elections in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor, however neither Gyumri nor Vanadzor are mentioned in any part of the Article exept the title. This discriminates the rights of the candidates from Gymri and Vanadzor communities, namely the parties and party alliances that have nominated candidates for Yerevan community council elections have the right to introduce their programs to the population of the Republic of Armenia on the expence of the Armenian taxpayers, while the parties and party alliances that have nominated candidates for Gyumri and Vanadzor community council elections do not have this right and can implement only paid campaigns via local television and radio stations, which according to the past experience is not always possible. Particularly a number of local Mass Media outlet have rejected to provide with paid broadcast time for electoral campaigns of some candidates.

Proposal:  It is necessary to add Gyumri and Vanadzor in All parts of the article 136 were Yerevan is mentioned taking into account the proportions of Yerevan with Gyumri and Vanadzor respectively.

Justification: This will exclude any discrimination that exists in the current draft. The public television and radio funded by the money of taxpayers inexplicably serves only to the needs of the capital while other two cities with the similar system of local elections cannot benefit from it. It is very important that similarly to Yerevan community council elections the population of Armenia has the opportunity to receive information about the programs and ideas of Gyumri and Vanadzor community council candidate parties and party alliances.

 

  1. The Article 136 of the Draft on pre-electoral campaign of community council candidates in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor communities states that the parties and party alliances during the community council elections in Yerevan have the right of free use of no more than 30 minutes of pulic television broadcast time, no more than 50 minutes of public radio broadcast time and in case of extraordinary elections 15 and 25 minutes respectively. During the community council elections in Yerevan have the right of paid use of no more than 50 minutes of pulic television broadcast time, no more than 80 minutes of public radio broadcast time and in case of extraordinary elections 25 and 40 minutes respectively. This timeframe is extremely low form the point of view of public awareness. It is also unclear why the time reduces in case of extraordinary elections.

Proposal: To review the broadcast quota indicated in Article 136 and to triple the for the forthcoming local elections and to set similar amount for extraordinary elections as well.  

Justification: Local elections in general and the elections in the three biggest communities in particular will be the most important ones after the National Assembly elections. They will relate to approximately half of the country population and it is necessary to provide the population with enough information about the political forces that have nominated for these elections.  The provided time amount for broadcasting is obviously not enough. Moreover the mission of the public television and the public radio is to serve to the public and in elections that happen once in five year the public media should be more overloaded with covering these events. This additional workload will increase the level of interest of the population towards local elections, will increase the level of trust of the population towards public media and will justify the public financing of the latter.

 

  1. The 3rd point of the Article 139 of the draft Electoral Code on summarizing the results of the voting and elections results it is stated that in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor community council elections during the summarizing of elections results the manadates of the community council memebers are disbursed among the parties and party alliances electoral lists that have received in case of parties 6% and in case of party alliances 8% of the cumulative number of positive votes and number of inaccuracies.

Proposal: To review the percentage and to change them respectively to 5% in case of parties and 7% in case of party alliances.

Justification: Setting the 5% minimal scale for parties and 7% for party alliances will give more parties and party alliances to be represented in the community council which will promote more participation in local self-government the development of the local democracy.  This will also result in more effective governance of the three mentioned communities.