Our Democracy is On the Verge of Collapse

Armenia's Constitution
Armenia's Constitution

Armenia’s Constitution


On June 22 Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step Block, which has absolute control over the parliament in Armenia, passed a law that amends Article 213 of the Armenian Constitution. The amendment caps the years of service for Constitutional Court judges and forces the removal of those judges who have served more than 12 years.

This may not seem like such a terrible idea if it were not for the fact that the Pashinyan camp intentionally bypassed the required Constitutional Court’s review of the amendment.

Article 168 Part 1 states that the Constitutional Court determines the compliance of laws, decisions of the National Assembly, decrees and executive orders of the President of the Republic, decisions of the Government and the Prime Minister, and secondary regulatory legal acts with the Constitution.

This means that the Constitutional Court has a duty to review all laws and decisions prior to enforcement – something they have thus far been stripped of with regard to the Constitutional Amendment at hand.

Article 168 Part 2 states that prior to the adoption of draft amendments to the Constitution, as well as draft legal acts put to referendum, the Constitutional Court determines compliance with the Constitution.

This section further solidifies the need to ensure all amendments to the Constitution are reviewed by the Constitutional Court.

Article 86 Part 2 of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly states that the Chairperson of the National Assembly shall, within two working days, send draft amendments to the Constitution to the Constitutional Court for review.

The president of the National Assembly, Ararat Mirzoyan, who is tasked with ensuring adherence to procedure, has violated this rule.

One must think that if the proposed Constitutional amendment did not bear severe red flags, such as the violation of Article 4 of the Constitution, which stipulates a balance of power among the state’s judicial, legislative and administrative bodies, then why would Pashinyan jump through hoops to circumvent a Constitutional Court review of the amendment?

The special session in which the Constitutional amendment was passed was boycotted by the two opposition parties in the parliament; so this packet of laws was passed exclusively by the Pashinyan camp.

Article 123 Part 2 of the Constitution tasks the President of the Republic with ensuring compliance with the Constitution. As such, many were hopeful that the president would fulfill this responsibility and send the amendment to the Constitutional Court for review – similar to two (far less significant) laws that he sent in for review just a few months ago.

However, in the middle of the night, the president signed off on a packet of laws that included the Pashinyan Constitutional amendment – without sending it in for Constitutional Court review.

A slightly different version of the very same amendment was slated for a referendum on April 5, but was postponed due to the state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The constitution also requires constitutional amendments be reviewed by the Constitutional Court prior to setting a referendum date. That article was also violated by the Pashinyan camp, but the concept of a referendum would have at least provided an opportunity for public discourse on the matter.

In stark contrast to the democratic values Pashinyan touts, Article 213 of the Constitution has now (as far as Pashinyan is concerned) been amended, with virtually no public discourse and in violation of the Constitution – resulting in full dominance of all three branches of power in the republic by one man.

The ARF in Armenia has, from the very beginning of Pashinyan’s quest to dominate the Constitutional Court, pushed for the process to be carried out within the legal and constitutional framework that is accepted by all parties and served as the very same structure through which Pashinyan came to power.

Furthermore, the ARF has consistently been a constructive extra parliamentary oppositional force. It has extended a helping hand in matters of national significance, it has mobilized the expertise of its ranks to offer thorough input and feedback to the government on various matters, and (as it has since its founding) has placed the resources of its global infrastructure at the service of the Armenian people and republic.

Unfortunately, not only has this sincerity fallen on deaf ears, it has been responded to with insulting attacks by Pashinyan and his teammates. But worse of all it has not stopped Pashinyan from overstepping the Constitution and putting our democracy on the verge of collapse.

It is now left up to each of us to ask the critical questions, to question the intentions of each responsible individual, and in coming to terms with the facts before us, to rally behind those who are guided by a moral compass that transcends self fulfillment (at minimum) and is instead led by an ideology and a program – those who have proven their dedication to our state and Cause for more than a century.

<<Դաշնակցութեան ճամբայ բացե’ք>>


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  1. David Karamian said:

    Pashinyan needs full autonomy to get his agenda accomplished! He’s in the right track and without his efforts to country would be overrun by the crooks who’ve looted the country for 30 years while everyone else including ARF has been standing on the sideline watching.

  2. Norin said:

    Nobody anointed the ARF the judge, jury, and executioner of Armenians worldwide and in Armenia. The ARF while perhaps good intentioned, had its opportunity in both the late 90’s when republicans came to power all the way through the 2000’s to present day. What did the ARF do during this time? The Republican Party reigned free like a bunch of criminals, which they are, and the ARF was content grasping and gnawing at political scraps thrown for them from the Republican governing table.

    Even in the midst of the popular uprising, the ARF rather than taking a principled stance alongside Pashinyan, whom at the time had the whole of Armenia supporting him, the ARF flip flopped and vied for optimal political positioning by constantly switching its support to the apparent “winning side”. Even at the last minute ARF supported Serj Sargsyan before he abruptly resigned and the ARF ended up exactly where they didn’t want to be, the loser’s side.

    Next the people voted and having seen who struggled with Pashinyan, the ARF lost all seats in Parliament NOT because Pashinyan forced you out, but because non-ARF Armenians simply do not trust the ARF any longer and voted you out. The ARF as an entity needs to find its roots, using the 70’s and 80’s as examples of when it had the people’s trust both in and out of Armenia.

    These constitutional changes are the only way these vestige judges will be cleared out. We need new blood in all of Armenia’s institutions. People are tired of the same worthless self serving parties vying for power in Armenia’s political landscape, big serious changes are needed and getting rid of these corrupt judges is part of that change.

    You can’t allow the very corrupt leaders you are trying to get rid of to deem whether or not the new laws that will lead to their ousting are “constitutional” or “unconstitutional”. The notions in this article are ridiculous. The focus should be on reforming Armenia and the author is drudging up support to help corrupt judges to stay in office perpetually via a loophole put in place by scum bag Republican Party members.

  3. Garnik Torosyan said:

    Dear Viken:
    Your article tells at best only the half of, a not relevant story.
    It seems you are applying the democracy from a very partisan angle which is not going to be helpful to Armenia causes and as proven in the past it will hurt Armenian of all colours. The legitimate government of Armenian people headed by Pashinian and I can say the legitimate government of Armenian in diaspora ( no matter how much is hated by ARF hardened old leadership), has mandate to give Arminan people inside Armenia and in diaspora HOPE. Hope to free Armenia from all evils of corruption, oligarchy, tyranny of past 30 years ( where in most part of it ARF was an accomplice)
    The deposed CC judges acted as the most effective facilitators of that tyranny, by repeatedly rubber stamping fraudulent elections , there are very partisan people like yourself, who know these facts but try to assume that ordinary Armenian in Armenia and diaspora can be made confused ( to say the least ) by presenting a democratic problem as a legal issue.
    The CC belonged to deposed governments of past.

    A very recent manifestation of the fact that the deposed CC judges were servants of past tyranny regimes was the recalling of application of Kocharian’s lawyers from CC before arrival of new CC judges

    Armenia should move forward with clean institutions.

    ARF cac give hope to it’s member by starting fresh , enrolling the new thinkers of its rank and file and replacing the old guard who are devoid of grasping the new realities of Armenia and Armenian

    Garnik Torosyan

  4. joe said:

    Pashinyan’s COVID response so far is a disaster for Armenia.. Also agree that absolute power corrupts absolutely.. I don’t like where this is going either.. It smells of desperation..

  5. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    To live in the country for 29 years, for having served various projects and various circumstances, to have seen the populations tyrannized by the mafia system imposes under two presidents with whom our Party has collaborated in an outrageous way, punishes the elections to 97%, I affirm that this change of regime that has driven out these leaders without faith, nor law besides the dollar God , calls it a “Velvet Revolution”, brings, I confirm with almost total citizens of the country, a small steps, THE DEMOCRATIE, with the total freedom to think to express themselves to publish to the point where the former mafia who possess colossal fortunes stemming from national plunder, corruption, crime having created “Parties” represented in the National Assembly. From this political “revolution” our Party has been swept away 97% and finds nothing better to associate, again, with a mobster and his Party to aim for the destabilization of the country in times of war. How do you describe these methods and individuals who have been weaning for 30 years whose sole purpose is to conquer power by all means most unworthy of the ideas of our Party, scorned, insulted. This organization that adopted the methods of these corrupt mobsters consider themselves to be the representatives of a “Supreme Council” “Keragouin Marmin”? I am ashamed and yet I am active for 29 years having adopted with firmness, rigor, this spirit, these ideas in the service of the “Mechag, Panvor”

  6. Ari said:

    The old Soviet era judges must go! Armenia is in need of impartial justice free from corrupt politics of the past.

  7. Asbed Pogarian said:

    Mr. Sosikian, what democracy are you talking about? Don’t tell me you consider the ‘thing’ we had before the Velvet Revolution a democracy. Who are you trying to fool? I would really like to know if you wrote a similar article about the demise of democracy in 2015 or 2018 when Serge Sargsyan and his gang of thieves were rewriting the laws to further their interests. And now you using that bastardized ‘constitution’ to criticize Pashinyan for clearing the corrupt system is pathetic. Then you go on and close your article with noble-sounding world like “(the ARF) has placed the resources of its global infrastructure at the service of the Armenian people and republic.” I guess you consider getting in bed with Serge Sargsyan’s regime DESPITE the warnings of smart and seasoned Dashnagtsagans (whom you now consider traitors) as service to the Armenian people. As a past AYF-agan and current supporter of the ANC, I am saddened by the poll numbers that just came out from the CRRC showing ARF’s approval rating in Armenia to be only 1%. That should make you pause and wonder. Serge Sargsyan’s rejected Republican Party also got 1%, and that’s pretty telling. It means that in the eyes of the Armenian people, the ARF has sank to the level of the Republicans. How pathetic. Maybe your next article should explore the reasons why. That will be a much better service to the Armenian nation and Republic.