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Armenia

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Politics and government of
Armenia


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

Contents

Politics since the dissolution of the Soviet Union

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-Petrossian. Ter-Petrossian had been elected head of government in 1990, when the National Democratic Union party defeated the Armenian Communist Party. Ter-Petrossian was re-elected in 1996. Following public demonstrations against Ter-Petrossian'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-Petrosian in 1995-96 but legalized again after Ter-Petrosian 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-Petrossian 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.

Government

Armenia became independent from the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic on 28 May 1918 as the Democratic Republic of Armenia (DRA). After the DRA 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. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, beginning on 23 September 1991 the official name of the nation has been the Republic of Armenia (Armenian: Hayastani Hanrapetut'yun). The data code for the country is AM.

The capital and largest city is Yerevan. In addition to the Yerevan administrative region, Armenia is split into ten administrative divisions, know as marzer (singular: marz); these are Ararat, Aragatsotn, Armavir, Gegharkunik, Kotayk, Lori, Shirak, Syunik, Tavush, and Vayots Dzor.

The flag of Armenia consists of three equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue, and orange.

Executive branch

The Government house
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Yerevan

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 Tigran Sargsyan Republican Party 9 April 2008
Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan none 14 April 2008
Chief of the staff of the Government David Sargsyan Republican Party 22 April 2008
Minister of Healthcare Harutyun Kushkyan Prosperous Armenia 1 June 2007
Minister of Economy Nerses Yeritsyan Republican Party 21 April 2008
Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan Republican Party 13 may 2009
Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian none 15 April 2008
Minister of Nature Protection Aram Harutyunyan Republican Party 1 June 2007
Minister of Emergency Situations Mher Shahgeldyan Rule of Law 1 April 2008
Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan none 1 June 2007
Minister of Agriculture Gerasim Alaverdyan Rule of Law 13 May 2009
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Armen Movsisyan Republican Party 8 June 2007
Minister of Transport and Communications Gurgen Sargsyan Rule of Law Party 21 April 2008
Minister of Finance Tigran Davtyan Republican Party 1 April 2008
Minister of Territorial Administration RA Vice Prime Minister Armen Gevorgyan none 21 April 2008
Minister of Urban Development Vardan Vardanyan Prosperous Armenia 1 April 2008
Minister of Justice Gevorg Danielyan Republican Party 20 June 2007
Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hacobyan Republican Party 1 October 2008
Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mkhitar Mnatsakanyan Prosperous Armenia 23 November 2009
Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Artur Petrosyan Prosperous Armenia 29 January 2010
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List of office holders

Presidents

Prime ministers

Legislative branch

The Azgayin Zhoghov (or National Assembly) is the legislative branch of the government of Armenia. It is a unicameral body of 131 members, elected for four-year terms: 56 members in single-seat constituencies and 75 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. The unicameral parliament is controlled by a coalition of three political parties: the conservative Republican party [3], the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and the Country of Law party. The main opposition is composed of several smaller parties joined in the Justice Bloc.

Political parties and elections

e • d Summary of the 19 February and 5 March 2003 Armenian presidential election results
Candidates and nominating parties Votes 1st round % Votes 2nd round %
Robert Kocharyan - Independent 710,674 49.48% 1,044,591 67.45%
Stepan Demirchyan - People's Party of Armenia 399,757 28.22% 504,011 32.55%
Artashes Geghamyan - National Unity 250,145 17.66%
Aram Karapetyan - Independent 41,795 2.95%
Vazgen Manukyan - National Democratic Union 12,904 0.91%
Ruben Avagian - Miaorvats Aier Party 5,788 0.41%
Aram Sargsian - Democratic Party of Armenia 3,034 0.21%
Garnik Margarian - Motherland and Dignity 1,272 0.09%
Aram Haroutyunian - National Accord Party 854 0.06%
Total (turnout (1st round 63.21%) (2nd round 67.04%) 1,426,223 100% 1,548,602 100%
Source: IFES Election Guide
e • d Summary of the 12 May 2007 Armenian National Assembly election results
Parties Votes % Seats +/–
Republican Party of Armenia (Hayastani Hanrapetakan Kusaktsutyun, "Հայաստանի Հանրապետական կուսակցություն") 458,258 33.91 64 +33
Prosperous Armenia (Bargavadj Hayastani Kusaktsutyun, "Բարգավաճ Հայաստան կուսակցություն") 204,483 15.13 18 +18
Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Hay Heghapokhakan Dashnaktsutiun, "Հայ Հեղափոխական Դաշնակցություն") 177,907 13.16 16 +5
Rule of Law (Orinants Erkir, "Օրինաց Երկիր") 95,324 7.05 9 –10
Heritage (Zharangutiun, "Ժառանգություն") 81,048 6.00 7 +7
United Labour Party (Miavorvats Ashkhatankayin Kusaksutyun, "Միավորված աշխատանքային կուսակցություն") 59,271 4.39 –6
National Unity (Azgayin Miabanutyun, "Ազգային Միաբանություն") 49,863 3.58 –9
New Times (Nor Zhamanakner, "Նոր Ժամանակներ") 47,060 3.48 ±0
People's Party (Zhoghovrdakan Kusaktsutyun, "Ժողովրդական կուսակցություն") 37,044 2.74
Union Party (Dashink Kusaktsutyun "Դաշինք" կուսակցություն) 32,943 2.44
People's Party of Armenia (Hayastani Zhoghovrdakan Kusaktsutyun, "Հայաստանի Ժողովրդական կուսակցություն") 22,762 1.68
Republic Party (Hanrapetutyun Kusaktsutyun, "Հանրապետություն" կուսակցություն) 22,288 1.65 ±0
Impeachment Union (Dashink Impeachment դաշինք "Իմպիչմենտ") 17,475 1.29
Others 17 –38
Total (turnout 59.35%) 1,375,733 100.0 131
Sources: Central Election Commission

In an innovation on 2007 24 November and 25, one political party conducted a non-binding Armenia-wide primary election. The party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, invited the public to vote to advise the party which of two candidates they should formally nominate for president of Armenia in the subsequent official election. What characterized it as a primary instead of a standard opinion poll was that the public knew of the primary in advance, all eligible voters were invited, and the voting was by secret ballot. "Some 300,000 people[1] . . . voted in make-shift tents and mobile ballot boxes. . . ."[2]

19 February 2008 presidential elections and after

Although the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitored the Presidential elections and concluded that they were "mostly in line with international standards," Armenian opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian protested the election results. Protesters supporting Ter-Petrosian began demonstrating in the capital city of Yerevan shortly after the results were announced. So far nine deaths have been reported as a result of conflicts between the police, the army, and the demonstrators in the streets of Yerevan. Human Rights Watch has accused the police of disproportionate violence.[3] Additionally, the government has been accused of charging only opposition activists, and failing to follow-up accusations against the police[4]

On Saturday, 1 March 2008, the outgoing president Robert Kocharian declared a state of emergency for the city and Levon Ter-Petrosian (who was in home arrest) recorded a message that was played over loudspeakers through the city of Yerevan the next day. In the message, Ter-Petrosian urged his supporters to return to their homes to avoid conflicts with the army and police and vowed to pursue the election results through legal channels. A constitutional court heard and rejected the case on 8 March 2008 because of the state of constitutional emergency.

The Centre for the Popular Movement (CPM) convened a sitting on 25 April. The Centre is going to challenge the outcome of the 19 February Presidential election at the European Court of Human Rights. An experts’ panel including Armenian and foreign lawyers will be set up to elaborate the lawsuit, the pre-election headquarters for Levon Ter-Petrossian reports.

According to the RA law on criminal legislation article 225.3 and article 300 first part the RA police started investigation on the following RA citizens to be sentenced: Sasun Mekhaki Mikaelyan (born in 07.11.1957, c. Hrazdan, Vanatur, 76ap) and Khachatur Alberti Sukiasyan (born in 15.09.1961, c Yerevan, Zavaryan str. 6) and according to the RA law on criminal legislation Nikol Vovayi Pashinyan (born in 01.06.1975, registered in c. Idjevan, Metaghagortsneri str. 3; but living in c. Yerevan, G. Nzhdeh str. 29, fl 15) is under investigation. Overall, there are 135 political prisoners in RA.

According to the police, they are accused in the following organizing mass disorder on 1 March 2008 in Opera square, Yerevan by the former RA president Levon Ter-Petrosyan and his confidants, breaking the law, for organizing public disorder and conducting it, for getting, keeping illegal weapons, for carrying out violation towards the police officers, on 1 March 2008 organizing mass disorder in the central part of the capital and the municipality building which was held by using weapons, murders, breaking and injuring properties, violation, firing and opposing the police officers.

In the message spread by the police, it is particularly mentioned those who have any information about the people under investigation should call the police central department 52-02-02, 53-02-02, or 56-02-02 or else, apply to their nearby police station. [5]

On 22 April, Zharangutiu (Heritage) Party MPs have requested the RA Prosecutor General to review the preventive punishments of Smbat Aivazian, member of the Hanrapetutiu (Republic) Party’s Political Board, and Arshak Banuchian, deputy director of the Matendaran. Reminder: Smbat Aivazian was detained on 24 February and Arsah Banuchian after the 1 March events. The Party proceeds collection of signatures in the National Assembly required to change the restraint of the detained parliamentarians. “Zharangutiun” submitted a solicitation of restraint with the Procurator’s Office two days ago. "Zharangutiun" MP Zaruhi Postanjian said that the solicitation was not rejected

On 23 April 2008, a day before the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, the Armenian journalist Gayane Arustamian held a protest action near the Matenadaran. She was accompanied by RA citizen Lala Aslikian. The protesters voiced complaint against genocides and murders. Over ten policemen watched the women’s action at the head of Ruben Melkonian. The protesters were holding a poster with an English inscription, "How can you prevent genocide?" At first, the policemen didn’t interfere with them as they didn’t understand the English sentence. Soon they got indignant seeing the second poster with an Armenian inscription, "What is the cost of the ten murdered people?" They finally flew into a rage after the protesters raised the third poster: "24 April 1915: Taliat, Jemal, Enver. 1 March 2008: Robert, Serzh, Artur. "How dare you instil hatred? Don’t you feel ashamed of yourself, you are my daughter’s age," said one of the policemen. The moment the protesters were answering journalists’ questions, the policemen grasped the posters and tore them off. "You can tear off the posters but you cannot uproot my tongue," said Gayane Arustamian. She left the site in triumph.

Since morning 24 April (the Armenian Genocide day), Azatutyan Square, i.e., Liberty Square had been surrounded by policemen grouped on the sidewalks or walking to and fro. Police buses and cars rested right in the square center. The reason was the march to be conducted by opposition leaders from Azatutyan Square to Tsitsernakaberd at 3pm. In reply to the question why there were so many policemen in the square, one of the policemen answered humorously: "You can peacefully walk in here. Nothing is going to happen." Another policeman seriously advised: "You’d better not show yourself at the neighborhoods around 3pm." The doctors in police clinic were to be alert and ready to overwork.

On the Genocide commemoration day, thousands of people, accompanied by opposition leaders, made for Tsitsernakaberd from Northern Avenue'. The police closed Baghramian Avenue allowing the marchers only to walk along the sidewalk. Chairman of People’s Party Stepan Demirchian, Chairman of Hanrapetutyun (Republic) Party Aram Sargisian, Leader of the Social Democratic Henchak Party Lyudmila Sarkissian, former spokesman of Levon Ter-Petrossian Levon Zurabian, and Davit Shahnazarian conducted the march. However hard the policemen tried to persuade people to walk along the sidewalk, they failed. In the end the police yielded and opened one side of the avenue. New groups of people joined the marchers on the way to Tsitsernakaberd. Roads have not been closed and there are no traffic problems recorded. Anyway, there are water-pumping and razor wire cars on Demirchian Street.

Corruption

External links

References

  1. ^ "A1 Plus, ARFD Nominates Vahan Hovhannisyan". http://www.a1plus.am/en/?page=issue&iid=55090. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  2. ^ Horizon Armenian Weekly, English Supplement, 2007 3 December, page E1, "ARF conducts 'Primaries' ", a Yerkir agency report from Yerevan.
  3. ^ [1], Human Rights Watch
  4. ^ [2], Human Rights Watch
  5. ^ Calm urged amid Armenia election clashes - CNN.com

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