Politics of Armenia

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The politics of Armenia takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament.

History[edit]

Armenia became independent from the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic on 28 May 1918 as the First Republic of Armenia. After the First Republic collapsed on 2 December 1920, it was absorbed into the Soviet Union and became part of the Transcaucasian SFSR. The TSFSR dissolved in 1936 and Armenia became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union known as the Armenian SSR.

The population of Armenia voted overwhelmingly for independence in a September 1991 referendum, followed by a presidential election in October 1991 that gave 83% of the vote to Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Ter-Petrosyan had been elected head of government in 1990, when the National Democratic Union party defeated the Armenian Communist Party. Ter-Petrosyan was re-elected in 1996. Following public demonstrations against Ter-Petrosyan's policies on Nagorno-Karabakh, the President resigned in January 1998 and was replaced by Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, who was elected President in March 1998. Following the assassination in Parliament of Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and parliament Speaker Karen Demirchyan and six other officials, 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. Kocharyan was successful in riding out the unrest. In May 2000, Andranik Margaryan replaced Aram 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 at the same time as parliamentary elections which left Kocharyan's party in a very powerful position in 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 unicameral parliament (also called the National Assembly) is dominated by a coalition, called "Unity" (Miasnutyun), between the Republican and Peoples Parties and the Agro-Technical Peoples Union, aided by numerous independents. Dashnaksutyun, which was outlawed by Ter-Petrosyan in 1995–96 but legalized again after Ter-Petrosyan resigned, also usually supports the government. A new party, the Republic Party, is headed by ex-Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan, brother of Vazgen Sargsyan, and has become the primary voice of the opposition, which also includes the Armenian Communist Party, the National Unity party of Artashes Geghamyan, and elements of the former Ter-Petrosyan government.

The Government of Armenia's stated aim is to build a Western-style parliamentary democracy as the basis of its form of government. However, international observers have questioned the fairness of Armenia's parliamentary and presidential elections and constitutional referendum since 1995, citing polling deficiencies, lack of cooperation by the Electoral Commission, and poor maintenance of electoral lists and polling places. For the most part however, Armenia is considered one of the more pro-democratic nations in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Observers noted, though, that opposition parties and candidates have been able to mount credible campaigns and proper polling procedures have been generally followed. Elections since 1998 have represented an improvement in terms of both fairness and efficiency, although they are still considered to have fallen short of international standards. The new constitution of 1995 greatly expanded the powers of the executive branch and gives it much more influence over the judiciary and municipal officials.

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 and remain refugees, largely in Azerbaijan. Armenia's record on discrimination toward the few remaining national minorities is generally good. The government does not restrict internal or international travel. Although freedom of the press and speech are guaranteed, the government maintains its monopoly over television and radio broadcasting.

2015 referendum[edit]

In December 2015 the country held a referendum which resulted in Armenia changing its form of government from a presidential to a parliamentary republic.[1]

Sceptics saw the referendum as a way for incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan to remain in control by becoming prime minister when his second presidential term ends in 2018.[1]

Government[edit]

Main article: Government of Armenia

The president is elected for a five-year term by the people (absolute majority with 2nd round if necessary).

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan Republican Party 9 April 2008
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan Republican Party 13 April 2014

Legislative branch[edit]

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

Political parties and elections[edit]

e • d Summary of the 19 February 2008 Armenian presidential election results
Candidates and nominating parties Votes %
Serzh Sargsyan - Republican Party of Armenia 862,369 52.82%
Levon Ter-Petrosyan 351,222 21.50%
Artur Baghdasaryan - Rule of Law 272,427 17.70%
Vahan Hovhannisyan - Armenian Revolutionary Federation 100,966 6.20%
Vazgen Manukyan - National Democratic Union 21,075 1.30%
Tigran Karapetyan - People's Party 9,791 0.60%
Artashes Geghamyan - National Unity 7,524 0.46%
Arman Melikyan 4,399 0.27%
Aram Harutyunyan - National Conciliation Party 2,892 0.17%
Total (turnout: 69%) 1,632,666 100%
Source: The protocol on the results of the RA Presidential Elections
e • d  Summary of the 6 May 2012 Armenian National Assembly election results
Party
Party-list
Constituency
Total
seats
±
Votes
%
Seats
Seats
%
Republican Party
664,440
44.02
40
29
70.7
69
Increase 5
Prosperous Armenia
454,673
30.12
28
9
21.9
37
Increase 12
ANC
106,903
7.08
7
7
Increase 7
Rule of Law
83,123
5.51
5
1
2.4
6
Decrease 3
ARF
85,550
5.67
5
5
Decrease 10
Heritage
86,998
5.76
5
5
Decrease 2
Armenian Communist Party
15,899
1.45
Steady
Democratic Party of Armenia
5,577
0.37
Steady
Unified Armenians Party
2,945
0.20
Steady
Non-partisans/Independents
2
4.8
2
Decrease 4
Invalid votes
53,831
Total
1,573,053
100.00
90
41
100.0
131
Electorate and turnout:
2,523,101
62.35
Source: Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Armenia

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.[2][3]

Independent Agencies[edit]

Apart from three traditional branches, there are independent agencies which exist outside of those three branches and have clear set goals and tasks to work towards.[4] Those agencies are

Constitutional Court of Armenia[edit]

Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Armenia[edit]

Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia[edit]

Central Bank of Armenia[edit]

General Prosecutor's Office[edit]

Control Chamber of The Republic of Armenia[edit]

History[edit]

After independence, the emerging new political and economic relations required the creation of a state financial and economic system, able to sustain the benefits to both state and society under the conditions of a liberal economy. Meanwhile, it was necessary to create a new legislative field to determine the financial control principles and approaches. One such institution was the Control Chamber of the Republic of Armenia National Assembly; a new system of state financial control. This external state control performing structure was founded on May 29, 1996. A few main objectives of Control Chamber were to exercise comprehensive and professional control over the effective spending of state revenues and funds ensuring transparency of their usage. The next major function of the Control Chamber was the analyzes of presented reports. The Control Chamber of Armenia was formed by the National Assembly and was accountable to the country’s legislative body. The Chamber was submitting to the National Assembly semiannual references, control progress reports, annual plans and reports of the Chamber's activities, thus making its study results public. The principles of the RA NA Control Chamber activity were those of independence, collegiality and publicity. It was performing its activities on its own, independently from the bodies of power being guided by the principles of the Lima declaration, as well as by those of INTOSAI (International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions). Control Chamber’s first steps were directed towards the determination of the its structural-functional divisions, professional departments and fields of activity. According to the Charter approved by the National Assembly, State Budget, Privatisation and Denationalisation; Foreign Loans and Credits; the Comprehensive-Analytical and Informational-Methodological were operating within the Chamber of Control. Later with the amendments to the Charter, the number of Control Chamber departments was increased by one with the addition of the Department of Control Over Community Budgets. During 2002-2007 a number of important events took place in the Control Chamber: 54.6% of the expenditure part of the RA state budget started to be controlled, instead of the previous 20%, the CoC performed joint audits with the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, the Control Chamber became a member of the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing. As a result of this cooperation 10 standards of external state sphere control, as well as financial and industrial control manuals, were developed. During the same years a new INTRANET system of document circulation management and computer information system was installed. Since 2007, the Control Chamber issues, every quarter, an official handbook containing their reports and conclusions illustrating the progress of all work undertaken. As a result of the Constitutional changes, there was necessity to bring in a new law on "RA Control Chamber". On December 25, 2006, the National Assembly adopted a new law on the Chamber (ratified on June 9, 2007) and came into force from the tenth day succeeding the coming into effect of the Constitution's 83.4 article. The RA Control Chamber, which is the legal successor of the RA NA Control Chamber, in comparison with the previous one, has a number of distinctive features which relate to the state, functions and authority of the Chamber: under the new legislation, the CoC chairman is being appointed by the NA upon the proposal of the RA president for a six-year term and the CoC Council, besides the chairman and the deputy, consists of a further 5 members. If previously the National Assembly was approving the CoC annual plan and report, under the new law the NA takes notice of the report on annual activity, and approves the plan, like in the previous case. On the basis of the new legal requirements, structural changes have been made in the Chamber: The departments have been reformed on a functional basis and a number of new divisions have been added ( e.g. the department of internal control). Such working dynamics does not rule out the possibility of future CoC structural changes.[5]

Tasks[edit]

The Control Chamber has the following tasks:

  • to submit to the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia the results of auditing and the information whereof to the Government;
  • to submit to the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia audit conclusions on:

1.the Annual Statement of the Government on the implementation of the State Budget; the Statement of the Government on the implementation of the Annual Program of the Privatization and Denationalizationof state enterprises and projects of unfinished construction;

2.the Annual Statement of the Central Bank;

  • to submit, at the beginning of each half-year, to the deputies of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia of a certificate on the implementation, during the -preceding half-year, of the State Budget, the use of loans and credits obtained from other states and international organizations, on the course of implementation of the program of privatization and denationalization;
  • to render methodological and professional assistance to committees and deputies of the National Assembly.

COC Staff[edit]

Chairman of the RA Control Chamber[edit]

According to the Article 116 of Constitution of Armenia, the Chairman of the Control Chamber shall be appointed by the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the President of the Republic for a six- year term. Any person complying with the requirements for the Deputy can be appointed Chairman of the Control Chamber. The same person may not be elected for the post of Chairman of the Control Chamber for more than two consecutive terms.[6]

On November 12, during sitting of the RA National Assembly, by result of secret voting, Iskhan Zakaryan was appointed Chairman of the RA Control Chamber. According to the 83.4 article of Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, the candidacy of Iskhan Zakaryan had been nominated to the National Assembly by the President of Republic.

Chief of staff[edit]

Artavazd Nersisyan is an engineer, power engineering specialist. He was born in 1962, in Yerevan. He graduated from the Polytechnic Institute after K. Marx. He started his career in "Hayaviahamalir" (Armaviacomplex) Production Complex as an engineer, then was elected as the Secretary of the Young Communists Committee of the same Complex and worked at the Spandaryan District Committee of the Young Communists of Armenia. Then He worked in "Armimpexbank" as a department head, at the Yerevan gold factory as a deputy director, in the Sport Committee of the RA as a department head. From 2008 he works in the RA CoC as the Counsellor to the Chairman of CoC, then as the Deputy Head of the Third Department. He was the Head of the Fourth Department in 2009. He was appointed as chief of staff at CoC in 2013.

Heads of Departments[edit]

Department First Name, Last Name Photo Date of Appointment
First Department Vardan Gevorgyan December 17, 2012
Second Department David Chibukhchyan July 1, 2008
Third Department Gegham Hoveyan December 26, 2009
Fifth Department Zhora Margaryan 2011
Sixth Department Martin Kyurkchyan 2008
Seventh Department Mesrop Hakobyan July, 2008
Ninth Department Samvel Yolyan July, 2008
Tenth Department Mnacakan Petrosyan
Methodology and International Affairs Department Karen Arustamyan July, 2008
Analysis Department Ruzan Zazyan July 1, 2008
Legal Department Aram Mamikonyan July 1, 2008

Departments[edit]

First Department[edit]

The First Department administrates control over the activity of the RA Ministry of Finance, the RA Ministry of Economy, the RA State Income Committee adjunct to the Government; it draws conclusions on the annual report of the RA Government on the implementation of the state budget.

Second Department[edit]

The Second Department administrates control over the activity of the credit programs and grants, the Social Investment Fund of Armenia, Armenian Development Agency, as well as the Central Bank and commercial banks of the RA, it draws a conclusion on the annual report of the Central Bank of the RA.

Third Department[edit]

The Third Department administrates control over the community budgets, including dotations and subventions allocated to the communities and over the usage of the community property.

Fifth Department[edit]

The Fifth department administrates control over the activity of the RA Ministry of Agriculture, the RA Ministry of Environmental Protection, the RA Ministry of Transport and Communication, the RA National Statistical Service, the RA Ministry of Healthcare.

Sixth Department[edit]

The Sixth Department administrates control over the activity of the RA Ministry of Urban Development, the RA State Committee on Water Economy, the RA Ministry of Energy and National Resources, the RA General Department of Civil Aviation adjunct to the RA Government.

Seventh Department[edit]

The Seventh Department administrates control over the activity of the RA Ministry of Education and Science, the RA Ministry of Culture, the RA Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, the RA Civil Service Council, the RA Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the RA Council of Public Television and Radio Company, the RA National Committee on Television and Radio.

Ninth Department[edit]

The Ninth Department administrates control over the activity of the RA Ministry of Defense, the RA Police adjunct to the Government, the RA Ministry of Justice, the RA National Security Service adjunct to the Government, the RA Ministry of Emergency Situations.

Tenth Department[edit]

The Tenth Department administrates control over the activity of the RA Constitutional Court, the RA President's Staff, the RA National Assembly's Staff, the RA Government's Staff, the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the RA Judicial Department, the RA Prosecution Office.

Methodology and International Affairs Department[edit]

The department provides methodological support: it develops control benchmarks and procedural instructions, supervises their implementation. It gives professional opinion on control plans and progress reports written as a result of the control implementation. It draws annual plan and annual report of the Control Chamber activity. It develops and implements the policy and strategy directed to information technologies of the Control Chamber, ensures mutual relations between Control Chamber and its staff and the competent bodies of foreign countries and the international organizations.

Analysis Department[edit]

The Analysis Department performs analytical works in the scope of control performed by the Control Chamber, as well as out of that scope, summarizes the conclusion drafts on the annual reports of the RA Government and RA Central Bank related to the implementation of state budget and privatization project.

Legal Department[edit]

The Legal Department provides professional opinion on the legal substantiation of the current reports written during the control implementation, performs legal examination of the CoC acts, represents and defends the interests of CoC in the judicial and other state bodies, based on the decision of the Council may be involved in the control process performed by the Control Chamber, provides legal counseling to the CoC management and staff.

COC in Constitution[edit]

According to the Article 83.4[6] The Control Chamber of the Republic of Armenia shall be an independent body, which shall oversee the use of the budget resources and the state and community property. The action plan of the Control Chamber shall be approved by the National Assembly. The Control Chamber shall at least once a year submit a report on the oversight outcomes to the National Assembly. The law shall define the regulations on the procedure and powers of the Control Chamber. The Chairman of the Control Chamber shall be appointed by the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the President of the Republic for a six- year term. Any person complying with the requirements for the Deputy can be appointed Chairman of the Control Chamber. The same person may not be elected for the post of Chairman of the Control Chamber for more than two consecutive terms.

Legislation[edit]

Peculiarities of The New Law[edit]

The new law, adopted in on December 25, 2006 was associated with the amendments and addendums to the RA Constitution. The law was developed in compliance with the standards of the International Organisation of the Supreme Audit Institutions, with the clauses of the Lima declaration of "Guidelines on Auditing Precepts" and with the international supreme audit practice.

According to the CoC law, the current RA Control Chamber is more independent, has separated from the RA National Assembly and has a new status. The Chairman of the Control Chamber is being appointed by the National Assembly upon the proposal of the Republic of Armenia President for a six-year term, unlike the previous chairmen who were proposed by the NA Chairman and approved by the NA. The same person shall not be appointed as a Chairman of the Control Chamber for two terms in succession. The National Assembly discusses the annual report made up from the control results undertaken by the Control Chamber without rendering a decision; previously if it was not approved, the NA could express mistrust to the Chairman of the Control Chamber. Furthermore, the Control Chamber, out of the annual activity plan, on the basis of the Council's decision, may perform out-of-plan control. The Control Chamber performs control in the terms of observations, checks, cross checks, analyses, as well as by the types of financial, compliance, efficiency (performance) and environmental audits. From the mentioned above the efficiency and environmental audit types should be especially distinguished, as will be applied in Armenia for the first time. We can also distinguish the authority of the Control Chamber to perform cross checks. n the new law, the control authorities applied by the Control Chamber have been broadened and clarified. The Control Chamber may exercise control over both outflows and inflows of the state, community and mandatory social security budgets, however by different procedures. From now on, the Control Chamber will have time limitation in terms of control implementation. So, the period for exercising audit in the controlled object will be set not longer than 24 working days, which may be prolonged during the audit for not more than 12 working days based on the decision of the Control Chamber Council. The period for cross checks will be set not longer than 12 working days, which may be extended for no longer than 6 working days based on the order of the Control Chamber Chairman.[7]

Corruption[edit]

Main article: Corruption in Armenia

Political corruption is a problem in Armenian society. In 2008, Transparency International reduced its Corruption Perceptions Index for Armenia from 3.0 in 2007[8] 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).[9] Despite legislative revisions in relation to elections and party financing, corruption either persists or has re-emerged in new forms.[10]

The United Nations Development Programme in Armenia views corruption in Armenia as "a serious challenge to its development."[11]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ayriyan, Serine (April 2016). "Armenia a gateway for Iranian goods?". ControlRisks | Russia/CIS Riskwatch Issue 9. Retrieved 20 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "A1 Plus, ARFD Nominates Vahan Hovhannisyan". Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  3. ^ Horizon Armenian Weekly, English Supplement, 2007 3 December, page E1, "ARF conducts 'Primaries' ", a Yerkir agency report from Yerevan.
  4. ^ http://www.atb.am/en/armenia/country/
  5. ^ http://www.coc.am/HistoryEng.aspx
  6. ^ a b http://parliament.am/parliament.php?id=constitution&lang=eng
  7. ^ http://www.coc.am/files/legislation/COCLawArm.pdf
  8. ^ Global Corruption Report 2008, Transparency International, Chapter 7.4, p. 225.
  9. ^ 2008 CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX, Transparency International, 2008.
  10. ^ Global Corruption Report 2008, Transparency International, Chapter 7, p. 122.
  11. ^ "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]