HOC COMMITTEE TO OBSERVE THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA
(12 May 2007)
Mr Leo PLATVOET (The
an invitation by the Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, the Bureau of
the Assembly decided, at its meeting on 15 March 2007, to set up an ad hoc
Committee to observe the parliamentary elections in Armenia, scheduled for 12
May 2007, and appointed me as the
Chairman and Rapporteur of the ad hoc Committee.
On 4 October 2004, a co-operation agreement was signed between the
Parliamentary Assembly and the European Commission for Democracy through Law
(“Venice Commission”). In conformity with Article 15 of the agreement:
“When the Bureau of the Assembly decides to observe an election in a country
in which electoral legislation was previously examined by the Venice Commission,
one of the rapporteurs of the Venice Commission on this issue may be invited to
join the Assembly's election observation mission as legal adviser”, the
Bureau of the Assembly invited an expert from the Venice Commission to join the
ad hoc Committee as advisor
Based on the proposals by the political groups in the Assembly, the ad
hoc Committee was composed as follows:
Socialist Group (SOC)
of the European People’s Party (EPP/CD)
Mr Dariusz LIPIŃSKI
Mr Lucio MALAN
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)
Ms Tina ACKETOFT
Mr Bernard MARQUET
Ms Assunta MELONI
Mr Paul WILLE
European Democrat Group (EDG)
Mr Alexei ALEXANDROV
Mr Nigel EVANS
Mr Anatoliy KOROBEYNIKOV
Group of the Unified European Left (UEL)
Mr Leo PLATVOET
Representatives not belonging to a Political Group of the Assembly (NR)
Mr Andrea RIGONI
Ms Mirjana LAZAROVA TRAJKOVSKA,
the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Mr Gaël Martin-Micallef,
Mr Bas KLEIN, Deputy Head of
Secretariat of the Interparliamentary Cooperation Unit
Mr Yann de Buyer, Co-Secretary of the Committee on
Economic Affairs and Development
Ms Daniele GASTL, Assistant, Interparliamentary
The ad hoc Committee acted as part of the International Election
Observation Mission (IEOM), which also included delegations of the OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE-PA) and the European Parliament, as well as the
Election Observation Mission of the Organisation for Co-operation and Security
in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR).
The ad hoc Committee met in Yerevan from 10 to 13 May 2007 and held, inter
alia, meetings with representatives of a cross-section of parties
participating in these elections, the Chairman of the Central Election
Commission (CEC), the Head of the Election Observation Mission of the OSCE/ODIHR
and his staff, the Heads of the OSCE and European Union missions and the Special
Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) of the Council of Europe in
Yerevan, as well as representatives of civil society and the mass media. The
programme of the meetings of the ad hoc Committee appears in Appendix 1
On Election Day, the ad hoc Committee was split into 17 teams which
observed the elections in and around Aragatz, Armavir, Ashtarak, Goris, Gyumri,
Meghri, Sevan and Yerevan.
7. In order to draw up
an assessment of the electoral campaign, as well as the political climate in the
run-up to the elections, the Bureau sent a pre-electoral mission to Armenia from
11 to 13 April 2007. The
cross-party pre-electoral delegation consisted of Mr Leo Platvoet (the
Netherlands, UEL), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee and Head of Delegation , Mr
Georges Colombier (France, EPP/CD), Mr Ewald Lindinger (Austria, SOC) and Mr
Bernard Marquet (Monaco, ALDE). Regrettably, due to unforeseen circumstances the
European Democrat Group (EDG) could not be represented on the pre-election
mission. In Yerevan, the pre-electoral delegation met with, inter
alia, representatives of political
parties participating in these elections, the President of the Republic, the
President of the National Assembly, the Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs,
the Chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC), members of the
Constitutional Court and the Office of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia,
representatives of the mass media and NGO community, as well as ambassadors from
Council of Europe member and observer states accredited in Armenia.
The conclusions of the pre-electoral mission were presented by me in a
memorandum to the Bureau of the Assembly (AS/Bur/AhArm (2007) 3)
statement was issued by the pre-electoral delegation at the end of their visit,
which appears in Appendix 2.
The IEOM unanimously concluded, pending the outcome of its assessment of
the tabulation process, which was not yet completed at that time that the
Parliamentary Elections in Armenia on 12 May 2007 “demonstrated
improvement and were conducted largely in accordance with Council of Europe and
OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. The
Armenian authorities and other actors in the electoral process took steps to
address previous shortcomings, but were unable to fully deliver a performance
consistent with there stated intention that the elections would meet
international standards and some issues remained unaddressed”.
The joint IEOM press release issued the day after these elections appears
in Appendix 3.
The ad hoc Committee wishes to thank the National Assembly of Armenia,
the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission and the SRSG of the Council of
Europe in Yerevan for their co-operation and the support provided to the ad hoc
Political and legal context
To date, none of the elections organised in Armenia since its
independence were considered to be conducted in line with Council of Europe and
other international standards for democratic elections. The Parliamentary
elections on 12 may 2007 were therefore a crucial touchstone for Armenia to
demonstrate its political will to organise genuinely democratic elections in
line with the commitments it undertook when acceding to the Council of Europe
elections should be seen in the context of the upcoming Presidential Elections
in Armenia, which are foreseen to take place in 2008. In those elections, the
incumbent President, Mr Robert Kocharyan, is precluded from standing for
re-election as a result of the constitutional limit of two consecutive terms.
The Constitution of
Armenia was amended in 2005, following a Constitutional referendum. The
amendments to the Constitution, inter alia,
entailed a transfer of power from the President of the Republic to the
Parliament. These changes therefore increased the stakes for the contestants in
the Parliamentary elections.
The political landscape
has seen a considerable level of fluidity and change since the last
Parliamentary elections in 2003. Orinats Yerkir, the party of former Speaker
Artur Baghdasaryan, left the governing coalition as a result of differences of
opinion about the foreign alignment of Armenia. A new party, Prosperous Armenia,
founded in March 2006 by millionaire businessman Gagik Tsarukyan, and supportive
to the policies of the incumbent President of Armenia, made a rapid emergence as
a serious political force in these elections.
The opposition in Armenia
is fragmented. The largest opposition coalition during the 2003 elections, the
Justice Bloc, fell apart and its members were all participating in these
elections individually. Moreover, most opposition parties seemed to have lost a
degree of popular support, and their position seemed to have weakened, as a
result of their decision to boycott the Constitutional referendum in 2005.
On 25 March 2007, Prime
Minister Andranik Margaryan, leader of the main governing Republican Party, died
suddenly of heart failure. His untimely death resulted in a leadership change in
the Republican Party close to the election campaign, with Defence Minister Serge
Sargsyan taking over the Prime Ministership and party Leader functions.
Armenia has a mixed
proportional-majoritarian political system. Of the 131 seats in the National
Assembly, 90 are elected via a system of proportional representation on the
basis of party lists in one single national constituency, with a 5% threshold
for individual parties and a 7% threshold for party coalitions. The remaining 41
mandates are elected in single mandate constituencies on the basis of the
“first past the post” system.
As a result of the
Constitutional changes after the 2005 referendum, the number of seats elected
through the proportional system rose from 75 to 90, while the number of seats
elected in single mandate constituencies decreased from 56 to 41. In addition,
the new parliament is now elected for a 5 year term instead of 4 years.
elections are governed by the Constitution and the Election Code, as well as by
provisions in other laws. The Election Code has changed significantly, mainly in
2005 and 2006 and most recently in February 2007. The 2005 and 2006 amendments
were adopted after a process of consultation with the Venice Commission of the
Council of Europe and the OSCE/ODIHR, who provided a joint opinion on these
amendments. The amendments in 2007 were adopted too late for the Venice
Commission to deliver an opinion in time for the Parliamentary elections on 12
May 2007. However, the Venice Commission concluded that the Election Code as
amended in 2005 and 2006, despite some remaining shortcomings, is an improvement
over previous electoral legislation and provides a good basis for the
organisation of democratic elections, provided that the Code is implemented in
The Armenian Election Code
has a very high degree of complexity and detail, and contains a number of
provisions that could have been better regulated via CEC decisions and by-laws.
As a result of this level of complexity and detail, a number of inconsistencies
within the Election Code, and between the Code and other pieces of legislation,
exist, most notably in relation to the election complaints procedures.
The Election Code
stipulates that complaints against CEC decisions can be appealed at the Court of
Appeal, except for complaints against the results of an election which fall
under the authority of the Constitutional Court. However, this is in
contradiction with the Civil Procedure Code, which stipulates that election
related complaints should be heard by the Courts of First Instance.
This contradiction was brought before the Court of Cassation, which ruled
that the Civil Procedure Code should have priority in election related cases.
The priority of the Civil Procedure Code, as lex
generalis, over the Election Code, as lex
specialis, is of some concern as this in effect bypasses the very strict
deadlines for decisions and appeals that are part of the Election Code to ensure
minim delay, and if necessary quick redress, in election related complaints. The
ad hoc Committee was informed that the constitutionality of the priority of
Civil Procedure Code provisions has been challenged in the Constitutional Court
With the Constitutional
amendments in 2005, the constitutional ban on dual citizenship for Armenians was
dropped. This proved to be somewhat controversial within the ruling coalition;
with the Republican Party joining the opposition parties in contesting the
possibility of giving dual citizens the unrestricted right to vote in Armenian
elections. In response, a series of amendments to the Election Code were adopted
in 2007 that deleted the provisions for out-of-country voting for Armenian
citizens residing abroad. As a result, only citizens who are registered in
Armenia have the right to vote in Armenian elections. Taking into account the
size of the Armenian Diaspora, this de facto disenfranchises a sizeable part of the Armenian electorate.
The provisions in the
Election Code regarding political party and campaign financing, as well as
financial transparency and disclosure, are weak and deficiencies in their
implementation were noted during these elections.
elections in Armenia are administered by a three-tiered election administration
consisting of the Central Election Commission (CEC), 41 Territorial Election
Commissions (TECs) - one for each
of the 41 single mandate constituencies -, and 1.923 Precinct Election
The composition of the
election commissions during previous elections proved to be problematic for the
independence and impartiality of the election administration. Therefore, in line
with recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Venice Commission of
the Council of Europe, the 2005 amendments to the Election Code changed the
nominations for the election commissions. The CEC consists of 9 members, 1
nominated by the President, 1 each by the 6 political factions in the outgoing
parliament, 1 nominated by the Peoples Deputies Group (formally non-aligned
members) and 1 nominated by the judiciary. The composition of the lower level
election commissions follows the same formula, with each representative on the
CEC nominating one member in each of the 41 TECs and each member in the TEC
nominating one member on each of the PECs in that TEC.
The leadership positions
in the election commissions (Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and Secretary), the
so called troika, are elected by the members of the election commissions from
amongst their midst. However, neither the CEC troika, nor the troikas of
practically all TECs, included members of the opposition parties. The
fact that representatives of the Orninats Yerkir party were replaced in key
functions in the commissions by representatives of the ruling parties, when
Orinats Yerkir left the ruling coalition, is of concern in this respect. The PEC
troikas had a more diverse composition than those of the TECs, but were still
dominated by representatives of the ruling parties. The composition of the
troikas challenged the spirit of the provisions in the Election Code aimed at a
balanced election administration.
In order to circumvent
possible boycotts of the election commissions, a late amendment to the Election
Code was adopted that abolished the need for a quorum for the duration of the
election period. This raises some concerns, although all decisions of an
election commission can be appealed to the courts.
The ad hoc Committee
welcomes the provisions in the Election Code that mandate an obligatory training
for all members of an election commission. This significantly enhanced the
professionalism of the work of the election commissions.
The CEC generally worked
in an efficient, open and transparent manner during the election period. A
special computer network was introduced that allowed for the real time
publication, on the CEC website, of the election results per polling station as
well as the aggregate results per TEC. The publication of the breakdown of the
results per polling station, as mandated by the Election Code, significantly
increases the transparency of the election process.
Candidate and Voter Registration
recommendations by the Assembly and other international institutions, the
amended Election Code introduced a central computerised voters’ list in
Armenia. The compilation of the voters’ list
is the responsibility of the Passport and Visa Office of the National
Police. The voters’ list is permanently posted on the CEC’s website, which
allows people to check their registration, although internet access is not
widely spread in Armenia. The CEC, police, as well as all parties and a number
of civil society organisations, undertook great efforts to improve the quality
of the voters’ list, including door-to-door verification by the police and a
special telephone hotline for people to report inaccuracies in the voters’
In line with legal
requirements, Armenian citizens who live abroad, but who have a registered
residence in Armenia, continue to be registered on the voters’ list, which
complicated the verification process.
deadline for people to apply for inclusion in the voters’ list, or to change
the information pertaining to them, was on 27 April 2007. On Election Day, a
voter who was not on the voters’ list could be added to a supplementary voters’
list via a court or police order, which could be obtained up to, and including
on, Election Day.
took place in an inclusive manner. In total, 24 parties and one bloc were
registered by the CEC for these elections. None of the candidates on the party
and bloc lists were refused registration by the CEC. Two parties later withdrew
from the proportional race. In total, 141 candidates for the majoritarian
contests submitted their registration documents. Of these, 135 were registered
by the CEC, five withdrew their registrations before the registration deadline
and one was refused registration on the ground that the required registration
documents were incomplete. Two candidates were later de-registered by court
order and 14 candidates withdrew later in the race, citing the limited prospects
that they would be able to win a seat in the election.
None of the political
parties registered for these elections fielded a candidate in all 41
majoritarian constituencies, most of them focusing on the proportional contests.
The majoritarian contests in general reflected local rather than national
political interests. In 11 constituencies, only two candidates contested for the
majoritarian mandate, and in 7 constituencies, only one candidate ran
uncontested. In the event of only one candidate running for a majoritarian seat,
the voters in that constituency were given the option of a “vote against all”.
Following recommendations by international institutions, the option to vote
“against all” was dropped from multi-candidate majoritarian, as well as the
The ad hoc Committee regrets
that, in a number of constituencies, only one candidate was running for the
majoritarian mandate, as it denies the voters in those constituencies the
fullest democratic choice on Election Day.
Pre-election period and Media
The official campaign period
started on 8 April 2007, and lasted until 24 hours before the day of the
elections. However, the Election Code does not clearly define what constitutes
campaigning, leading to some confusion about what political activities were
allowed just before the start of the official campaign period.
After an initially slow start,
the election campaign was active and dynamic and took place in a largely
permissive environment with no impediments by local authorities. All parties had
equal access to billboard space provided by the local authorities, although some
parties noted problems with access to commercially provided billboard space, as
this had already been rented out prior to the campaign period.
The separation of the election
campaign of the main ruling party, the Republican Party, and official government
activities was at times not very distinct, as was clearly visible during the
commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the armed forces, where
state and party symbols merged.
A number of incidents,
including the bombing of a party headquarters and the publication of a secretly
recorded conversation between a diplomat and the leader of an opposition party,
negatively affected the otherwise positive campaign atmosphere.
During the campaign period,
the public media adhered to the legal provisions for equal access to free
airtime for parties participating in these elections. Public and private media
also adhered to the legal provisions for equal conditions for paid political
advertising in the campaign period. However, the exorbitant prices demanded by
all broadcasters for political advertising, which were high compared to normal
commercial rates, are to be regretted.
The media generally adhered to
the legal provisions for equal and impartial news coverage during the campaign
period, although monitoring, including the one sponsored by the Council of
Europe, still showed a bias in favour of the ruling parties, even when corrected
for the normal advantage in media coverage enjoyed by governing parties. In
addition, many interlocutors noted that before the start of the official
campaign period, which is subject to legal provisions for media coverage in the
Election Code, the coverage of opposition parties had been considerably more
Election day - Vote count and
On Election Day the vote
generally took place in a calm atmosphere, with only a few, isolated, incidents
reported. The vote was generally well conducted despite the complex and time
consuming voting procedures introduced by the Armenian authorities, which in a
large number of polling stations led to overcrowding at certain periods during
Election Day. Bussing of voters was noted in a significant number of polling
stations as was family voting. The relatively high incidence of assisted voting,
especially of blind people, was somewhat surprising taking into account the wide
availability of special aids for blind people to vote unassisted.
irregularities, albeit isolated, were still observed, such as multiple voting
and identical signatures on the voter’s list. Unauthorised persons were
present in 17% of the polling stations observed.
The efforts of the
authorities to improve the accuracy of the voters’ list had clearly borne
fruit. However, in most polling stations, persons were still added to the voters’
list by police and court order on Election Day, albeit in far fewer numbers than
during previous elections.
The conduct of the vote
count, although largely procedurally correct, was less positively assessed than
the conduct of the vote. Most polling stations finalised the count within the
legal deadlines, but the counting was protracted in most cases, also as a result
of the complex counting procedures prescribed by law. In 20% of the polling
stations observed, the polling station commissions had problems with completing
the election protocols. Significant errors were observed in 8% of the polling
stations observed. The ad hoc Committee regrets that, in a small number of
polling stations, deliberate falsifications of the results were observed. In
addition, a number of PECs finalised the protocols at the TEC, or were found to
have changed the “initial data” (number of voters according to the voters’
list, number of ballots and envelopes received, number of cancelled and unused
ballots) on the protocols, which could facilitate electoral fraud and is in
contradiction to the Election Code.
Due to protracted counting
procedures, and the slow rate of tabulation, the tabulation process at TEC and
CEC levels could not be evaluated in time for the joint IEOM press conference
the day after the elections. However, the tabulation process was observed by the
IEOM through OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission observers and their
findings are therefore an integral part of this report.
Regrettably, the situation
deteriorated during the tabulation process. The problems encountered by the PECs
while completing the protocols became clearly apparent at the TECs. The
tabulation process was generally disorganised, with procedural errors and
omissions occurring in 31% of the 39 TECs observed (out of a total of 41 TECs).
The conduct of the tabulation was assessed negatively in 35 % of the TECs
The “initial data” on
PEC protocols was changed, or ordered to be changed, at 14 TECs, and, at 7 TECs,
bags containing ballot papers and election materials were delivered unsealed or
had clearly been re-opened after they had been sealed at the polling stations.
In one TEC (number 19), unsealed bags with ballot papers were observed being
taken to the local campaign headquarters of the Republican Party and brought
back to the TEC sealed.
In order to enhance the
transparency of the election process, the CEC had announced that it would
publish a breakdown of the election results per polling station on its website.
For this purpose, the CEC had introduced a special computer network that allowed
TECs to introduce directly, and in real time, the results per polling station as
well as the tabulated results at the TEC level.
The direct introduction of data in real time, without CEC intervention,
was also meant as an additional measure to increase public confidence in the
election system. However, results only slowly appeared on the CEC website and,
inexplicably, the results from the 13 Yerevan TECs only appeared on the website
midday on 13 May, despite the fact that in almost all PECs in Yerevan the
counting was completed before the 6:00 am deadline that morning. In addition, by
a decision of the CEC, the special computer network was not used by the Yerevan
TECs to enter their results. Instead, the protocols were delivered to the CEC
and entered into the computer system there. To an extent, this undermined the
stated intention of the website and computer network as a tool to enhance the
transparency and public confidence in the tabulation process.
In order to allow citizens
and electoral stakeholders to control the correctness of the tabulated results,
the Election Code stipulates that for the proportional contest the breakdown of
the results per polling station should be published with the aggregate results
by both the CEC and TECs. However, the Election Code does not make similar
provisions for the majoritarian contests, limiting the transparency of the
counting and tabulation process for those contests.
IEOM observers collected
96 certified copies of PEC results which it could compare with the results for
the proportional contest on the CEC website. In total, more than 200
discrepancies were found, most of them appearing to be accidental, but in a
significant number of cases the “initial data” appeared to have been changed,
which is in contradiction with the Election Code which prohibits such data to be
changed after it has been initially recorded. In addition, the Election Code
does not specify the period during which the results protocols should be
displayed at the PEC and TEC premises. Regrettably, ODIHR EOM observers noted
that, in many cases, the protocols were taken down quickly after Election Day.
Where recounts took place,
they were conducted in a calm atmosphere and in line with legal procedures. The
results of the recounts did not significantly differ from the original results.
The CEC announced the
preliminary results on 13 May and the final results on 19 May 2007. It should be
noted that three members of the CEC, all representatives of opposition parties,
refused to sign both the preliminary as well as the final results protocols.
According to the final results for the proportional elections, the Republican
Party won 32,8% (41 seats) of the vote, the Prosperous Armenia Party 14,7% (25
seats), the Dashnaktsutyun Armenian Revolutionary Federation 12,7% (16 seats),
Orinats Yerkir 6,8% (8 seats) and the Heritage Party 5,8% (7 seats) of the vote.
All other parties did not pass the legal threshold to enter into the new
parliament in the proportional elections. In the majoritarian contests, the
Republican Party won 22 seats, the Prosperous Armenia Party 7 seats, Orinats
Yerkir 2 seats and the Alliance Party 1 seat. In addition, 9 seats were won by
formally independent candidates.
Conclusions and recommendations
elections in Armenia, held on 12 May 2007, were largely held in line with
Council of Europe commitments and standards for democratic elections, although
shortcomings remain. The Armenian Authorities, as well as other electoral
stakeholders, showed the political will to address previous shortcomings and to
improve the conduct of these elections, although some issues remain unaddressed.
Regrettably, the shortcomings and irregularities, some of which were serious,
observed during the crucial vote count and tabulation processes stain the
positive preliminary assessment.
The amended Election Code
is, overall, an improvement in comparison to previous electoral legislation and
forms a good basis for the conduct of democratic elections. However, some issues
remain unaddressed, most notably in relation to the complaints and appeals
procedures and the publication of the disaggregated results for both the
proportional and majoritarian contests. The ad hoc Committee calls on the
Armenian authorities and the incoming Parliament to resolve these remaining
issues in close consultation with the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe
before the next Presidential elections, which are scheduled for 2008. Moreover,
any recommendations contained in the forthcoming opinion of the Venice
Commission on the 2007 amendments to the Election Code should be taken into
account in this process.
The central computerised
voters’ list, a long-standing recommendation made by the Assembly was a
significant improvement for these elections. The efforts made by the authorities,
as well as other actors, to enhance accuracy should be welcomed. The ad hoc
Committee hopes that the authorities will continue unabated with their efforts
to resolve the remaining inaccuracies in time for the next elections.
The role of the media,
which adhered to legal provisions for the allocation of free airtime and largely
provided equal and unbiased coverage of most election contestants during the
official campaign period, is to be welcomed. However, the ad hoc Committee
regrets the exorbitant prices demanded for paid political advertising, which
largely prevented the financially less well endowed parties from using this
possibility to convey their message to the public. It is hoped that the media
will, also outside the official campaign period, continue to provide a balanced
and unbiased coverage of all - both ruling and opposition - political parties.
The irregularities and
shortcomings encountered during the tabulation process, after the preliminary
findings were published by the IEOM, are of concern as they could undermine the
transparency and public confidence in the conduct and results of these elections.
In addition, they raise questions with regard to the robustness of the electoral
process in Armenia.
The immediate publication
on the CEC website of the results per polling station is a welcome and important
tool to enhance the transparency of, and ensure public confidence in, the
election process. In that respect, it is to be regretted that, as a result of
the problems with the updating process and completion of protocols, this website
did not fully meet its stated objective.
The legally mandated
publication of the disaggregate results per polling station by the CEC and TECs
should also be extended to the results of the majoritarian contests. Moreover, a
legal minimum duration should be set for the publication of the results on the
PEC and TEC premises. The ad hoc Committee calls upon the newly elected
Parliament to make the necessary changes to the Election Code in this respect
before the next elections.
The intertwinement, at all
levels, of political and business interests, as highlighted by the sudden
emergence of the Prosperous Armenia Party of millionaire businessman Gagik
Tsarukian as a leading political force, is a point of concern, especially in the
light of the relatively weak provisions regarding financial disclosure and
transparency of campaign finances.
Electoral violations during
previous elections have never been satisfactorily investigated and prosecuted. A
climate of impunity for electoral violations and election related violence is
detrimental for democracy and therefore cannot be allowed to exist in Armenia.
The Armenian authorities should fully investigate any irregularities and
shortcomings that are brought to its attention, either in the reports of
election observers, or in official election complaints, and should take
appropriate corrective measures when necessary. In addition, where electoral
violations are found, the authorities should provide redress and prosecute the
perpetrators, at all levels, to the fullest extent of the law. In this respect,
the ad hoc Committee is heartened by the announcement of the President of
Armenia that all shortcomings and violations will be examined carefully and that
all necessary measures to uphold the rule of law will be taken; and it welcomes
those criminal investigations into election violations and fraud already
initiated by the authorities.
The assessment of the
tabulation process significantly altered the conclusions of the preliminary
findings, which were published before the evaluation of the vote count and
tabulation processes was completed. This clearly shows the danger and
limitations of organising an IEOM press conference before the vote count and
tabulation processes, which are crucial in an election process, are finalised.
This has not been the first time that an early press conference by the IEOM was
problematic. Therefore, for future election observations in the framework of the
IEOM, the joint press conference announcing the preliminary findings to the
public should not take place before the counting and tabulation processes can be
AH ARM (2007) 3 REV
11 May 2007
AD HOC COMMITTEE TO OBSERVE THE PARLIAMENTARY
ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA (12 May 2007)
10 to 13 May 2007
Wenesday, 9 May 2007
of the members of the delegation. All
members will be met at the airport and provided with transfers to:
F: +/374 10/ 510 768
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Ad Hoc Committee meeting
Departure to Golden Tulip Hotel
Joint Briefing Programme (see separate programme)
End of programme
Friday, 11 May 2007
Departure to Golden Tulip Hotel
Golden Tulip Hotel
Joint briefing programme (cont.) (see separate programme)
End of programme
Afternoon: departure to the regions for those members
deployed outside Yerevan
Saturday, 12 April 2007
Observation of the Parliamentary Elections
Sunday, 13 April 200
Ad Hoc Committee Meeting / Joint debriefing
Departure to Marriott Hotel
Joint Press Conference
Evening / night: departure of the members of the
12 vote: a touchstone for Armenian democracy
Strasbourg, 13.04.2007 – The
forthcoming parliamentary elections in Armenia on May 12 will be a crucial
touchstone for the degree of maturity of democracy in Armenia, concluded the
four-member (*) pre-election delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe (PACE) at the end of a visit to Yerevan from 10 to 13 April
The delegation was heartened by the
assurances of the Armenian authorities, and all political stakeholders it met,
that it is their intention to hold elections that fully meet Council of Europe
standards for democratic elections. In this respect the delegation stresses that
it is the responsibility of all parties and stakeholders to adhere to the rules
that a genuinely democratic process demands.
The delegation took note of the
improved election code, which has generally passed the expert analysis of the
Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. The election code forms a sound basis
for the conduct of democratic elections if it is fully implemented in good faith.
The delegation welcomes the efforts
by the authorities to create a centralised voters’ list, in line with
long-standing recommendations by the Parliamentary Assembly. However, the
delegation also notes the concerns of several interlocutors that the accuracy of
the voters’ lists still leaves a lot to be desired. It therefore calls upon
the authorities to continue, and if necessary step up, all efforts to ensure the
highest possible accuracy of the voters’ list on Election Day. In this
respect, the delegation regrets the reluctance by the majority of the political
players in Armenia to introduce the inking of voters’ fingers, as advised by
the Venice Commission, as a proven mechanism to prevent multiple voting.
The delegation was concerned over
its overall impression of a lack of popular interest in the election process by
the electorate. Such attitudes of apathy, or even cynicism, are not conducive to
the development of democracy in Armenia. The delegation was not able, with a few
notable exceptions, to discern marked differences between the political
platforms of the contenders. It was left with the impression that the upcoming
elections are regarded by many as a struggle between political elites and not
between concepts and ideas. In relation to this, the delegation is concerned
that, in a number of constituencies, only one candidate is running for the
majoritarian mandate, thereby not allowing the electorate in those
constituencies a fully democratic choice.
The delegation would like to stress
that a level playing field in the campaign, and full respect for the principles
of freedom of expression and assembly, are key conditions for democratic
elections. It is therefore concerned by the uneven conditions for the political
players, as highlighted by the media monitoring sponsored by the Council of
Europe. In this respect, the exhorbitant costs for paid political advertising
demanded by broadcasters are deeply regretted.
The fact that out-of-country voting
has been abolished in the amended election code is of concern to the delegation,
as, in practice, it will disenfranchise a sizeable part of the Armenian
population that is living abroad.
The delegation strongly condemns
the recent attacks on the headquarters of a political party in Armenia. It would
like to reiterate its position that violence and intimidation have no place in a
democratic society. Electoral violations during past elections have never been
satisfactorily investigated and prosecuted. A climate of impunity for electoral
violations and election related violence can not be allowed to exist in Armenia.
The delegation therefore calls upon the competent authorities to fully
investigate any election-related complaints that are brought to its attention
and, where violations are found, to provide redress and prosecute the violators
to the fullest extent of the law.
Lastly, the delegation calls on all
political actors to use the little time that is left before May 12 to ensure
that the forthcoming parliamentary elections are fully in line with Council of
(*) The pre-election
delegation visited Yerevan from 10 to 13 April at the invitation of the
President of the National Assembly of Armenia. The cross-party delegation was
composed of Leo Platvoet (Netherlands, UEL), Head of Delegation, Georges
Colombier (France, EPP/CD), Ewald Lindinger (Austria, SOC) and Bernard Marquet
(Monaco, ALDE). During its visit, the delegation met with the President of the
Republic, the President of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister and the
Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs, the Chairman of the Central Election
Commission, a cross-section of political parties running in these elections,
members of the Constitutional Court and the Office of the Human Rights Defender
of Armenia, as well as representatives of the mass media and NGO communities.
Contact: Vladimir Dronov, mobile:
+33 663 493 792.
INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION
Armenian poll demonstrates
progress, observers say
YEREVAN, 13 May 2007 – In a joint
statement today, the International Election Observation Mission for the 12 May
parliamentary elections in Armenia concluded that the elections demonstrated
improvement from previous ones and were largely in accordance with international
commitments, although some issues remain unaddressed.
The mission commended steps taken
by the Armenian authorities to address serious shortcomings, including
amendments to the Election Code. The election campaign was dynamic with
extensive media coverage. Election day was calm, with no major incidents
reported, but a few cases of fraud schemes were observed. Some procedural
problems arose during the count and tabulation of votes as well as isolated
cases of deliberate falsifications.
Some 100 parliamentarians and 300
short-term observers monitored the elections for the OSCE Office for Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights, OSCE/ODIHR, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, OSCE
PA, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, PACE, and the European
“These elections were a clear
improvement and that is good for Armenian democracy“, said Tone Tingsgaard,
Special Co-ordinator of the short-term election observers and Vice President of
the OSCE PA. “Now, more work is needed to further consolidate this young
democracy. That will require joint effort and will by all political forces. I
hope we will see that happen in the years ahead.”
Leo Platvoet, Head of the PACE
delegation said: “We congratulate the Armenian people on showing the will to
hold democratic elections. Some challenges remain, such as intertwining between
political and business interests and improvements are still needed to the
electoral complaints procedure. The Council of Europe and its Assembly continue
to stand ready to assist Armenia in this process.”
“With their participation in
these elections, Armenian citizens have made a further step towards European
democratic values as foreseen and promoted by the EU Neighborhood Policy. The EU
delegation encourages the Armenian people to continue in this direction in view
of forthcoming elections”, said Marie Anne Isler Beguin, who headed the EP
“Hopefully this election will
contribute to restoring the trust of voters in the election process”,
concluded Ambassador Boris Frlec, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term mission.
“But the election is not over. We will continue to follow the post-election
developments; only once they have been concluded, will we have the full
The election authorities generally worked efficiently and
were well prepared for election day. For the first time there was a central and
computerized voter register. Amendments
to the Election Code provided that women constitute at least 15 percent of each
In its statement, the mission noted that the separation of
state and the ruling party appeared less than distinct in the campaign.