Message to Heads of Communities and Council of the Elders members

Message to Heads of Communities and Council of the Elders members

19.06.2020

Dear Heads of Communities and Council of the Elders Members,

on June 18 the RA National Assembly adopted the legislative package on change in the electoral system of local self-government bodies.

On the background of noisy public events, this fact remained unnoticed, while it implies an essential change of institutional system of the country. The discussions on the issue of the change of electoral system of local self-government bodies have been held for about 5 years as well as in the statutory bodies of Union of Communities of Armenia and at the expert level, at the context of the strategies of the Union.

The Union organized discussions on this issue by various formats during last months, too. According to the Constitution adopted in 2015 the right to determine the electoral system of local self-government bodies was granted to the National Assembly, which made the institutional electoral system of local self-government fluid and depending on the political conjuncture, changeable.

The changes adopted by the National Assembly respond to very important issues:

  1. Expanding the political responsibility of the parties,
  2. Increasing the role of the Council of Elders.

This changes will lead to the situation that political parties will become the lobbists of local self-government interests and decentralization at national level, will become the
stakeholders of protection of the interests and will essentially get rid of the chain from top to bottom governance which is actually opetaring now in Armenia.

At the same time, unfortunately, satisfactory and inclusive discussions of the legislative projects were not carried out.

There is no justification for rejecting the direct electoral system of community leaders. The proportional electoral system of the Council of Elders could be successfully harmonized with the direct electoral system of community leaders, ensuring a more efficient and democratic self-government. The sharp transition to 100% proportional electoral system of the Council of Elders limits the free access of non-partisan individuals to local self-government and the parties are not completely ready physically to be involved in these processes in the communities.

Intermediate, mixed solutions were preferred.

We didn't receive a solution to the issue of returning to a single day of local elections.

Despite all this, it is impossible to underestimate the scale of the changes made, the direct and indirect impact of the latter on the local self-government system, state and political system.

In each particular community, the main addressees of local policy development and implementation will be the political parties that make up the majority in the Council of Elders.

From Union's mission point of view we will review our strategies, targeting the parties in terms of lobbying. The fact is that the parties don't have enough knowledge and practice in local-self government.

Therefore, we will make professional expertise and trainings one of the directions of our actions for party members, especially young party members.

Dear Heads of Communities and  Council of the Elders members, 

It is a fact that from now we all live in a new reality, in the rules of the new game. Each change opens new possibilities.

Let's hope that these changes will contribute to the development of local democracy in Armenia and to decentralization. The process has started.

Emin Yeritsyan

President, Union of Communities of Armenia

Co-chair, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Head of Armenian delegation to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Head of Armenian delegation to the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP)

Bureau member, the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP)

Member of World Council, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)

 

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