Politics of Armenia

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Political System of Armenia
Հայաստանի հանրապետության պետական համակարգ
Coat of arms of Armenia.svg
State typeUnitary parliamentary republic
ConstitutionConstitution of Armenia
Legislative branch
NameNational Assembly
TypeUnicameral
Meeting placeNational Assembly Building
Presiding officerArarat Mirzoyan
President of the National Assembly
Executive branch
Head of State
TitlePresident
CurrentlyArmen Sarkissian
AppointerNational Assembly
Head of Government
TitlePrime Minister
CurrentlyNikol Pashinyan
AppointerPresident
Cabinet
NameGovernment of Armenia
Current cabinetPashinyan government
LeaderPrime Minister
AppointerPresident
HeadquartersGovernment House
Ministries12
Judicial branch
NameJudiciary of Armenia
Constitutional Court of Armenia
Chief judgeHrayr Tovmasyan
SeatYerevan

The politics of Armenia take place in the framework of the parliamentary representative democratic republic of Armenia, whereby the President of Armenia is the head of state and the Prime Minister of Armenia the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the President and the Government. Legislative power is vested in both the Government and Parliament.[1][2][3]

History[edit]

Armenia became independent from the Russian Empire on 28 May 1918 as the Republic of Armenia, later referred as First Republic of Armenia. About a month long before its independence Armenia was part of short lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. Suffering heavvy losses during Turkish invasion of Armenia and after Soviet invasion of Armenia government of the First Republic resigned on 2 December 1920. Soviet Russia reinstalled its control over the country, which later became part of the Transcaucasian SFSR. The TSFSR was dissolved in 1936 and Armenia became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union known as the Armenian SSR, later also referred as Second Republic of Armenia.

During dissolution of the Soviet Union the population of Armenia voted overwhelmingly for independence in a September 1991 referendum. It followed by a presidential election in October 1991 that gave 83% of the votes to Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Earlier in 1990, when the National Democratic Union party defeated the Armenian Communist Party he was elected Chairman of the Supreme Council of Armenia. Ter-Petrosyan was re-elected in 1996. Following public discontent and demonstrations against his policies on Nagorno-Karabakh, the President resigned in January 1998 and was replaced by Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, who was elected as second President in March 1998. Following the assassination of Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, parliament Speaker Karen Demirchyan and six other officials during parliament seating on 27 October 1999, a period of political instability ensued during which an opposition headed by elements of the former Armenian National Movement government attempted unsuccessfully to force Kocharyan to resign. In May 2000, Andranik Margaryan replaced Aram Sargsyan (a brother of assassinated Vazgen Sargsyan) as Prime Minister.

Kocharyan's re-election as president in 2003 was followed by widespread allegations of ballot-rigging. He went on to propose controversial constitutional amendments on the role of parliament. These were rejected in a referendum the following May. Concurrent parliamentary elections left Kocharyan's party in a very powerful position in the parliament. There were mounting calls for the President's resignation in early 2004 with thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets in support of demands for a referendum of confidence in him.

The Government of Armenia's stated aim is to build a Western-style parliamentary democracy. However, international observers have questioned the fairness of Armenia's parliamentary and presidential elections and constitutional referendum between 1995 and 2018, citing polling deficiencies, lack of cooperation by the Electoral Commission, and poor maintenance of electoral lists and polling places. Armenia is considered one of the most democratic nations of the loose Commonwealth of Independent States.

The observance of human rights in Armenia is uneven and is marked by shortcomings. Police brutality allegedly still goes largely unreported, while observers note that defendants are often beaten to extract confessions and are denied visits from relatives and lawyers. Public demonstrations usually take place without government interference, though one rally in November 2000 by an opposition party was followed by the arrest and imprisonment for a month of its organizer. Freedom of religion is not always protected under existing law. Nontraditional churches, especially the Jehovah's Witnesses, have been subjected to harassment, sometimes violently. All churches apart from the Armenian Apostolic Church must register with the government, and proselytizing was forbidden by law, though since 1997 the government has pursued more moderate policies. The government's policy toward conscientious objection is in transition, as part of Armenia's accession to the Council of Europe. Most of Armenia's ethnic Azeri population was deported in 1988–1989 mainly to Azerbaijan. Armenia boasts good record on protection of the national minorities, for whose representatives four seats are reserved in the National Assembly. The government does not restrict internal or international travel.

Transition to a parliamentary republic[edit]

In December 2015, the country held a referendum which approved transformation of Armenia from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic.[4]

As a result, the president was stripped of his veto faculty and the presidency was downgraded to a figurehead position elected by parliament every seven years. The president is not allowed to be a member of any political party and re-election is forbidden.[5]

Sceptics saw the constitutional reform as an attempt of third president Serzh Sargsyan to remain in control by becoming prime minister after fulfilling his second presidential term in 2018.[4]

Government[edit]

Until the ratification of the 2015 constitutional reform, the President was directly elected for a five-year term in a two-round system.

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian Independent 9 April 2018
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan Civil Contract 8 May 2018

Legislative branch[edit]

The unicameral National Assembly of Armenia (Azgayin Zhoghov) is the legislative branch of the government of Armenia.

Before 2015 constitutional referendum it was initially made of 131 members, elected for five-year terms: 90 members in single-seat constituencies and 41 by proportional representation. The proportional-representation seats in the National Assembly are assigned on a party-list basis amongst those parties that receive at least 5% of the total of the number of the votes.

Following the 2015 referendum, the number of MPs was reduced from the original 131 members to 101 and single-seat constituencies were removed.[5]

Political parties and elections[edit]

The electoral threshold is currently set at 5% for single parties and 7% for blocs.[6]

Armenian National Assembly 2018.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/–
My Step Alliance 884,864 70.42 88 +83
Prosperous Armenia 103,801 8.26 26 –5
Bright Armenia 80,047 6.37 18 +15
Republican Party of Armenia 59,083 4.70 0 –58
Armenian Revolutionary Federation 48,816 3.88 0 –7
We Alliance (FDH) 25,176 2.00 0 –1
Sasna Tsrer 22,868 1.82 0 New
Rule of Law 12,393 0.99 0 0
Citizen's Decision 8,514 0.68 0 New
Christian-Democratic Rebirth Party 6,458 0.51 0 New
National Progress Party 4,121 0.33 0 New
Invalid/blank votes 5,111
Total 1,261,105 100 132 +27
Registered voters/turnout 2,593,140 48.63
Source: CEC

The first primary election in Armenia was held by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in November 2007 to select the presidential candidate. Some 300.000 people voted.[7][8]

Independent agencies[edit]

Independent of three traditional branches are the following independent agencies, each with separate powers and responsibilities:[9]

Corruption[edit]

Political corruption is a problem in Armenian society. In 2008, Transparency International reduced its Corruption Perceptions Index for Armenia from 3.0 in 2007[10] to 2.9 out of 10 (a lower score means more perceived corruption); Armenia slipped from 99th place in 2007 to 109th out of 180 countries surveyed (on a par with Argentina, Belize, Moldova, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu).[11] Despite legislative revisions in relation to elections and party financing, corruption either persists or has re-emerged in new forms.[12]

The United Nations Development Programme in Armenia views corruption in Armenia as "a serious challenge to its development."[13]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Shugart, Matthew Søberg (September 2005). "Semi-Presidential Systems: Dual Executive and Mixed Authority Patterns" (PDF). Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. United States: University of California, San Diego. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 August 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help); Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Shugart, Matthew Søberg (December 2005). "Semi-Presidential Systems: Dual Executive And Mixed Authority Patterns" (PDF). Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego. French Politics. 3 (3): 323–351. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fp.8200087. ISSN 1476-3427. OCLC 6895745903. Retrieved 13 October 2017. Table 1 shows that dissolution power as a presidential initiative is rare in the contemporary president-parliamentary systems. In fact, only in Armenia may the president dissolve (once per year) without a trigger (e.g. assembly failure to invest a government).
  3. ^ Markarov, Alexander (2016). "Semi-presidentialism in Armenia". In Elgie, Robert; Moestrup, Sophia (eds.). Semi-Presidentialism in the Caucasus and Central Asia. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK (published 15 May 2016). pp. 61–90. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-38781-3_3. ISBN 978-1-137-38780-6. LCCN 2016939393. OCLC 6039792321. Retrieved 8 October 2017. Markarov discusses the formation and development of the semi-presidential system in Armenia since its foundation in 1991. The author identifies and compares the formal powers of the president, prime minister, and parliament under the 1995 Constitution as well as the amendments introduced through the Constitutional referendum in 2005. Markarov argues that the highly presidentialized semi-presidential system that was introduced in the early 1990s gradually evolved into a Constitutionally more balanced structure. However, in practice, the president has remained dominant and backed by a presidential majority; the president has thus been able to set the policy agenda and implement his preferred policy.
  4. ^ a b Ayriyan, Serine (April 2016). "Armenia a gateway for Iranian goods?". ControlRisks | Russia/CIS Riskwatch Issue 9. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Majority of Voters Support Armenia's Constitutional Reform". Sputnik. 7 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  6. ^ Sanamyan, Emil. "A1 Plus, ARFD Nominates Vahan Hovhannisyan". Open Democracy. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  7. ^ "A1 Plus, ARFD Nominates Vahan Hovhannisyan". Retrieved 2008-02-10.
  8. ^ Horizon Armenian Weekly, English Supplement, 2007 3 December, page E1, "ARF conducts 'Primaries' ", a Yerkir agency report from Yerevan.
  9. ^ http://www.atb.am/en/armenia/country/
  10. ^ Global Corruption Report 2008, Transparency International, Chapter 7.4, p. 225.
  11. ^ 2008 CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX Archived 2009-03-11 at the Wayback Machine, Transparency International, 2008.
  12. ^ Global Corruption Report 2008, Transparency International, Chapter 7, p. 122.
  13. ^ "Strengthening Cooperation between the National Assembly, Civil Society and the Media in the Fight Against Corruption", Speech by Ms. Consuelo Vidal, (UN RC / UNDP RR), April 6, 2006.

External links[edit]