4+4+4: Opposition seeks particular format for Electoral Code debate

Representatives of the government have once again reaffirmed that they are ready to negotiate with the opposition and civil society over the draft Electoral Code.

Last week, Minister-Chief of Government Staff David Harutyunyan in principle accepted the proposal of Levon Zurabyan, the head of the Armenian National Congress (ANC) parliamentary faction, concerning negotiations with the opposition and civil society in the 4+4+4 format, where the government, opposition and NGOs will be represented by four delegates.

The format implies a commission that will be set up to discuss and to come to an agreement on the draft Electoral Code.

“We do not offer a working group. You can listen to all proposals and reject them. We offer organizing another process and following the offer of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) to arrive at consensus over the draft Electoral Code and to adopt a format of political dialogue that would allow all political parties to reach a solution which would restore people’s trust in the elections,” said Zurabyan.

According to Hovhannes Sahakyan, the Chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs, they are not constrained and can listen to the recommendations of the joint platform.

“It is, at least, problematic to me: which four non-governmental organizations are going to participate and how will they be selected? There are groups in which one or two people representing a political force or a person disagree with another five,” Sahakyan says.

The main demand of the opposition is that the authorities ensure post-election publication of names of voters who go to the polls, which is opposed by the government, but instead an alternative is offered - to get acquainted with voter lists for two hours.

On Tuesday, Eduard Sharmazanov, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, reiterated that the official post-election publication of voter lists is not allowed, but parties will be enabled to get acquainted with and take out information from these lists.

The Armenian Revival Party has issued a statement, according to which, the Orinats Yerkir faction will support the idea of tripartite talks on the electoral code.

The Prosperous Armenia party (PAP) will participate in discussions with its proposals. The main demands of the opposition, including the post-election publication of voter lists, are also included in the PAP’s package.

“If there is a chance to try to put together all the ideas and to find the most optimal solution, if there is a political will and if the consent of the government is not just an imitation to say that ‘we agreed even with this, but look, nothing has come out of it’, the PAP will surely be for the real effective working process, putting different opinions together,” said Naira Zohrabyan, the leader of the PAP.

Sharmazanov said that he has an impression that some opposition figures mixed up “consensus”, “consolidation” and “ultimatums”.

“Consensus does not mean that we must accept smoothly whatever the opposition says and vice versa. It means to have a discussion and to come to an agreement over specific proposals,” he says.

Tuesday evening NGOs discussed the proposal to participate in negotiations with the government, and have already agreed to submit five demands jointly with the opposition on the draft Electoral Code.

“In particular, [the demands are] post-election publication of voter lists, voter lists cleaning by the example of Georgia, installation of video cameras at polling stations, a simple proportional election system, excluding rating votes, regional lists, as well as the introduction of a system of identification of voters by their fingers or an option of inking their fingers,” Daniel Ioannisyan, the coordinator of the Union of Informed Citizens NGO, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.