by Tatevik Shahunyan
The Presidential Committee for Constitutional Reform has made public a preliminary concept of the project of constitutional reforms that feature transition to the parliamentary system of government in Armenia.
The document, particularly, calls to expand the parliament's supervisory powers, authorize the legislative body to elect the president for a 7-year term. The authors of the project offer changes to the system of the presidential election. The presidential contenders must be non-party men, which will make them impartial arbiters for the legislative and executive powers. The new reforms will give the president a role of an arbiter with no executive powers.
The authors of the project of constitutional reform explain such 'innovations' with the intention to de-monopolize the power, as a super-powerful president enjoying the support of the parliamentary majority inherently grasps the power. Meanwhile, the Committee members say a president having no party belonging will not be able to monopolize the power in the country.
Instead, the authors of the 'reforms' significantly expand the prime minister's powers. The latter will be "elected" in the course of parliamentary elections (no details are mentioned in the document). Afterwards, the document says, the prime minister forms the government that is accountable to the parliament (where majority belongs to the same prime minister - editor's note). Actually, the president is deprived of the levers of influence on the government. Duplication of power in the field of defense, national security and foreign policy will be ruled out - something the authors of the reform think as a 'positive factor.'
Hence, the project of reforms deprives the president of the status of the Supreme Military Commander and the powers in the foreign policy and national security. All these prerogatives are transferred to the prime minister, the authors say.
Actually, the forecasts of experts and politicians regarding the constitutional reform will come true. To recall, they have repeatedly said that the project of constitutional reforms is an attempt of the ruling majority to retain power also after the presidential elections of 2018. It is noteworthy that the Constitution bans the president to run for a third term. Meanwhile it is already the second term of President Serzh Sargsyan. According to experts, Serzh Sargsyan will change the system of government in the country from semi-presidential to the parliamentary with 'weak' president and super-powerful prime minister and will take the post of the prime minister. Earlier, the non-governmental parliamentary parties - ARFD, Heritage and Prosperous Armenia - insisted on transition to the parliamentary system of government, while the Republican Party rejected the idea as not suitable for a country like Armenia.
Generally, the 45-page project covers the state government, constitutional rights, election legislation and human rights and freedoms.