by Anna Mkrtchyan

On 6 December 2015, the people of the Republic of Armenia said “Yes” to the Constitutional reforms. As a result, the system of governing was changed from semi-presidential to parliamentary, with a clarification of separation of powers. Both the political and legal responsibilities of State authorities were increased. The process is underway. Upon the appointment of the Prime Minister of Armenia in April 2017, Armenia will totally become a Parliamentary Republic.

The word Constitution stands for the democratic institutions, for people who share the values of freedom, equality, lawfulness and independence. When adopting a constitution, every nation hopes that it contains all the guarantees and solutions for all situations, those expected and those that are not.

According to the Constitution, Armenia adopted a Parliamentary way of governing. Throughout history, Parliamentary way of governing proved to be one of the most democratic, so Armenians believed it was their best choice. Parliamentary governance will be a solid base to meet both external and internal challenges, to build and maintain a developed country (providing a shift from being a developing country to becoming a developed one) with the predominance of the great idea of the Rule of Law.

The main step has been made. The referendum held in 2015 showed the majority of Armenians’ willingness to the new changes, to the stability and to the improvement of the governing system. We believe that the parliamentary way of governing is a step forward to our future, where there is no place for uncertain decisions, suspicious actions and activities. We have chosen the way of sustainable development for every citizen living in or outside the borders of the Republic of Armenia (RA).

Why change the Constitution?

The Constitution is the essential legal act in the internal legal system of every country. It regulates relations between the state and citizens, specifying the rules of accepted behaviour as well as the structure of state.

Every contemporary Constitution has two main features:

1. To guarantee the main rights and freedoms of people and;

2. To provide the legal basis for the democratic way of state governing.

The idea that Constitutions are adopted for a long period of time is true. However, we cannot take into the consideration the fact that legal relations are dynamic phenomena and are always changing in short periods of time. Such changes can sometimes result in a discrepancy between constitutional provisions and political reality. On the other hand, the norms of the Constitution state the regulations that are no longer relevant and applicable to the current scenario.

Constitutional reforms aim to maintain the stability of democracy and democratic values in general.

The political campaign of “Say Yes to the Constitutional reforms”, was held not only by the ruling party but also by the other political parties, including several parties from the opposition. This fact shows that the importance and necessity of changes were realised by the major part of our society. Of course, the perception of “importance” is very much evaluative. Challenges that are important for one part of society may seem less important for other parts, but this was not the case. This was a new start for forming a more democratic legal system which will be based solely on appreciating human rights as a dominating value.

As a result of political changes, the political and legal responsibility of all three branches of power will definitely increase significantly. The separation between judicial, legislative and executive branches will be visible not only on paper, but also in practice, for the benefit of citizens in their daily life.

The concentration of power will be limited and will not be focused in the hands of one political figure. The parliament will have more legal and political mechanisms to influence the decisions made by the governmental authorities. State body that will be elected directly by the citizens of Armenia will be the National Assembly, which will become the only representative body.

Today we can say that the Parliamentary way of governing is already part of our reality. It means that strong authorities and a strong opposition, will sustainably increase the role of political parties as the main players in the political arena. These reforms were a step forward towards a better governing system, anticipating security and progress of our beautiful country.

Nevertheless, we have to remember that the Constitution only gives people the right to be free and happy, but we have to make sure to take this opportunity.

23 April 2018
This text was published in Bullseye issue 72