The main feature of the draft constitutional amendments put to referendum is presented to be the fact that the country will change its government system by switching from a presidential republic to a parliamentary one. Accordingly, let us observe the draft regulations on the formation and activity of the National Assembly.
Article 89 of the Draft stipulates that the National Assembly is composed of at least one hundred and one deputies. In other words, it does not define the exact number of deputies which, in combination with other provisions of the same article, leads to the conclusion that irrespective of the real picture of voters’ will, one of the parties or alliances of parties represented in the National Assembly will have a majority and will be able to dictate its will. Moreover, if any party or alliance of parties does not get a majority of seats, a second round may be held.
As a result, if, for instance, three political parties get 24% of votes each and one party gets 28%, that one party can get the majority of seats in the National Assembly irrespective of the fact that 72% of the voters support other political parties.
Article 104 of the Draft Constitution stipulates that one of the three deputy speakers of the National Assembly is elected from among the deputies of opposition factions. However, if we take into account the fact that deputy speakers of the National Assembly are elected and called back by a majority vote of the total number of deputies, it results that the deputy speaker from the opposition should have the confidence of deputies from the ruling party. And in case of losing the confidence, he/she can be called back by this majority.
The institute of investigation committee is embedded by Article 108 of the Draft Constitution, which is formed upon the requirement of at least one fourth of the total number of deputies in order to reveal facts of public interest and within the competence of the National Assembly. However, here the seats are also distributed based on the proportion of number of deputies involved in factions with all the ensuing consequences. Moreover, for an unknown reason, such a committee cannot be formed for the investigation of issues related to defense and security spheres. This means that according to the Draft, Parliament of a parliamentary republic will not be authorized to investigate issues related to law enforcement agencies.
The new Draft Constitution envisages that all members of the National Commission on Television and Radio, Prosecutor General, Human Rights Defender, the whole leadership of the Central Bank, Head and members of Audit Chamber will be appointed by the National Assembly. This means that a person who does not have the confidence of the majority (i.e. the ruling party) will not be able to appear in the Government and in the aforementioned bodies.
The Draft stipulates that the National Assembly also elects all the seven members of the Central Electoral Commission. Hence, it results that the elective body forms the body that is in charge of organizing and holding elections, which creates an additional interest for the Central Electoral Commission to rig the elections.
These levers of the National Assembly are present in any parliamentary republic. But if we take into account the fact that by Article 89 of the new Constitution, the National Assembly will have one ruling party irrespective of election results, we can state that in Armenia all these levers are provided to the ruling party, rather than the Parliament.