STANDING COMMITTEE

CG/CP (12) 13

Strasbourg, 17 November 2005

REPORT
ON THE LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA

Observed on 25 September and 16 October 2005

Rapporteur: Sean O’Brien (Ireland, L; SOC)

Document adopted by the Standing Committee of the Congress on 9 November 2005

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 3

2. Background – General information about Armenia 4

3. Preparatory meetings regarding the observation: 6

- Meeting with candidates 6

- Meeting with the Congress Armenian delegation 6

- Meeting with Minister Abrahamyan 7

- Meeting with Mr. Seryan Avagyan 7

- Meeting with local self-government NGOs 7

4. The elections - the observation mission 8

4.1 The election campaign 8

4.2 Voter lists 9

4.3 Polling day 10

5. Recommendations 13

Appendices

    Appendix I Programme of the 1st Stage election 15

    Appendix II Programme of the 2nd Stage election 17

    Appendix III Deployment of the 1st and 2nd Stage election 18

    Appendix IV Press release 19

1. Introduction

Following the invitation by Mr Hovik Abrahamyan, Minister for Co-ordination of Territorial Administration and Development of Infrastructures of the Republic of Armenia, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (the Congress) decided to send a delegation to observe the elections of the Local Self-government Bodies in Armenia. The elections were spread over 5 weeks between 25 September and 23 October 2005.

The delegation, headed by Sean O’Brien (Ireland, SOC), included Ömür Aybar (Turkey, EPP/CD), John Biggs (United Kingdom, SOC), Alain Chenard, former President of the Congress (France), Luca Ciriani (Italy, ILDG), Brian Coleman (United Kingdom, EPP/CD), David Lloyd-Williams (United Kingdom, ILDG), Lars Molin (Sweden, EPP/CD), Christopher Newbury (United Kingdom, EPP/CD) and Marja van der Tas (Netherlands, EPP/CD). They were accompanied by Jean-Philippe Bozouls and Oscar Alarcón from the Congress secretariat.

In conformity with the Congress Bureau’s decision, and following the election timetable of Local Self-government Bodies in Armenia1, the Congress delegation’s observation work focused on observing local elections in two stages:

    - Stage one (25 September): local elections in seven communities of the city of Yerevan (community council elections in all seven communities and heads of community election in two communities), in view of the importance of the capital city (in terms of population, size and economic and political role).

    - Stage two (16 October): local elections in 252 communities spread through the three Armenian regions of Armavir, Lori and Tavush.

The Congress wishes to express its thanks in particular to Ms Bojana Urumova, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and her staff for their assistance, help and logistical support.

The Council of Europe’s delegation took part in a series of preparatory meetings, organised prior to the elections by the Special Representative’s Office of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in Armenia. During these meetings, an overview of the political situation of the country, the electoral procedures and the media situation were provided. A meeting with NGOs was also organised (see programmes in Appendices I and II). These meetings gave the Congress delegation a better picture of the context in which the elections were taking place. Through the Council of Europe’s representative in the Republic of Armenia, the Congress delegation enjoyed close and effective cooperation with the OSCE/ODIHR office in Yerevan. The Congress delegation met OSCE Ambassador Pryakhin during both stages of the election. The ambassador informed the delegation that the OSCE was not deploying an election observation mission, since OSCE/ODIHR does not normally observe local elections. Therefore the members of the Congress delegation were the only international observers present at the elections.

During both stages of the observation process, the Congress delegation split up into different teams. On 25 September these teams observed the election in the Kentron and Arabkir localities of the City of Yerevan. On 16 October the teams observed the election in the regions of Armavir, Tavush and Lori.

The day following the second observation stage, the Congress issued a press release (Appendix IV).

2. Background – General information about Armenia

The Republic of Armenia achieved its independence from the Soviet Union on 21 September 1991 and became a member of the Council of Europe on 25 January 2001. The country’s constitution was adopted by referendum on 5 July 1995 and Armenia signed the Charter of Local Self-Government on 11 May 2001. Ratification followed on 25 January 2002 and the Charter came into force in Armenia on 1 May 2002.
Local administration in the Republic of Armenia takes two principal forms:
a) The country is divided into ten Marz (regions or provinces) plus the capital city of Yerevan for the purposes of decentralization of central government. A Marzpet or governor heads each region. All formal powers are vested in the Marzpet but there are also provisions for a consultative and advisory Marz council (see below).

b) For the purposes of local self-government, the regions are divided into communities (or, in Yerevan, twelve districts). There are 930 of these in the country as a whole, including the capital’s districts. Communities are classified as either rural or urban, but all communities outside Yerevan are attributed the same legal powers and characteristics. Despite their formal legal equalities, however, communities vary enormously in terms of population. Communities consist of a directly elected council of community elders and a directly elected community chief. Within Yerevan, the districts have a modified (and reduced) set of formal powers (see below).

The legal basis of local self-government in Armenia derives from two principal sources:
a) Chapter 7 of the Constitution makes provision for "Territorial Administration and Local Self-Government".

    - Article 104 provides for the regions and for the urban and rural communities.
    - Article 105 requires that "communities shall have local self-government". It provides for three-yearly elections of the council (of five to fifteen members) 2 and the mayor/chief "to manage the property of the district and to solve problems of local significance". The mayor/chief is to organise his or her staff.
    - Article 106 requires the council to approve the budget on the recommendation of the mayor and to "oversee the implementation of the budget, and determine local taxes and fees as prescribed by law".
    - Article 108 provides that the City of Yerevan shall be considered a Marz and that the President of the Republic, upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister, shall appoint and remove the mayor. Local self-government is to be instituted in Yerevan through neighbourhood districts.
    - Article 109 provides that, in cases prescribed by law, the Government may remove the mayor/chief of a community on the recommendation of the Marzpet. In such a case, special elections must be held within 30 days. An acting mayor/chief is to be appointed by the Prime Minister (urban communities) or Marzpet (rural communities).
    - Election procedures for local self-governing bodies and their powers are to be "determined by the Constitution and the laws" (Art 110).

b) Within this constitutional framework, the most significant source of substantive law is the Law on Local Self-Government of 7 May 2002.

This Law replaced the earlier Law on Local Self-Government of 22 July 1996 and has itself been subsequently amended by the Law on Making Amendments and Adjustments to the Law on Local Self-Government of 26 December 2002. The Law of 7 May 2002 states its own objectives as being to “define the concept of local self-government in the Republic of Armenia, general principles, bodies, its powers as well as legal, economic, financial bases of their activities and guarantees, regulate interrelations between the state and local self government bodies” (Art 1).

The concept of the “community” is further elaborated in Art 4, which states: “Community is a democratic basis of the state system. A community is a commonality of residents and administrative-territorial subdivision, within the defined boundaries of which local self-government is implemented by the residents of the community directly or through the elected bodies. A community is a legal entity, the specifics of which are established by this law. Community shall manage its property independently, has a budget as well as a seal bearing the coat-of-arms of the Republic of Armenia or community and its name.”

In Armenian legislation, it is important to distinguish between the community council (representative body) and the community leader (“mayor” in urban communities), who is to “officially represent community and be the executive body of the community, who shall exercise powers provided for by the Constitution and this Law”3.

The amount of electoral deposit shall be:

      - 50 times the minimum wage for community leader candidates in communities with up to 5,000 voters;

      - 100 times the minimum wage for community leader candidates in communities with more than 5,000 voters;

      - 10 times the minimum wage for council member candidates in communities with up to 5,000 voters;

      - 20 times the minimum wage for council member candidates in communities with more than 5,000 voters.

If a candidate is elected as a community leader or receives more than five percent of votes cast for all candidates, his/her electoral deposit shall be returned to the candidate or to the pre-election fund, if the deposit was paid from the pre-election fund. If the candidate receives less than five percent of the votes, the electoral deposit shall be transferred to the state budget.

If a candidate is elected as a council member or receives more than five percent of votes cast for all candidates in the electoral district, his/her electoral deposit shall be returned to the candidate or to the pre-election fund, if the deposit was paid from the pre-election fund. If the candidate receives less than five percent of the votes, the electoral deposit shall be transferred to the state budget.

3. Preparatory meetings regarding the observation

Meetings with candidates

In separate meetings, the Congress delegation met the two candidates for the position of community leader of the Kentron Community, namely Mr G. Beglaryan4 and Ms Ruzanna Khachatryan5. It transpired that the two candidates had not previously met each other.

The candidates expressed contrasting views concerning the progress of the electoral campaign. Some issues were raised by both candidates: the problem of the voter lists, the provision of proxies and observers, campaign donations and the violations which had occurred during the first stage of the elections (prior to 23 September). Whereas the independent candidate gave an impression of a campaign that was proceeding smoothly, the opposition candidate drew attention to the following abuses: the use of administrative resources in the media campaign, the intimidation of opposition candidates, the failure to seal polling boxes during the elections and unequal treatment of the parties with regard to information presented on "Public TV". Both candidates welcomed the presence of foreign observers but also informed the delegation of “conflicts of interest” between some independent candidates, who were being sponsored by business interests.

The Congress delegation also held separate meetings with the parties of the opposition6 and the Ruling Coalition7. At both meetings, the parties drew attention to the shortcomings of the new Electoral Code, the proximity of the Constitutional referendum8, the secrecy of the vote and the organisation of the elections in five stages. While the opposition parties complained that the media were under the control of the authorities, the ruling coalition parties drew attention to the transparent procedure of the new Electoral Code.

The Congress delegation noted that the opposition parties face a number of difficulties, but it remains convinced that the local elections are contributing to the development of democracy in the region.

Meeting with the Congress Armenian delegation

A first meeting took place on 24 September with a second meeting on 14 October, attended by Mr. Emin Yeritsyan, Head of the Delegation. At this latter meeting Mr Yeritsyan briefed the Congress delegation concerning the Action Plan of the Government which followed from the Recommendation 140(2003) adopted by the Standing Committee on 26 November 2003. Items of the plan included:

    - provision for administrative supervision of the functioning of elected Community Councils;

    - the efficiency of the local civil service will be improved by the introduction of legislation making it mandatory for the recruitment of staff by open competition;

    - a national training strategy is to be introduced for members of Community Councils and for members of Precinct Electoral Commissions;

    - a number of issues will be addressed in the Constitutional Referendum in November, namely provision for the election of a Mayor of Yerevan; provision for Inter-Community Unions; the rights, obligations etc. of community councils will be specified;

    - community councils now have a four-year term of office;

    - community leaders can only be removed from office by a court;

    - financing of local government has been reformed with the provision for tax administration being extended to rural communities and a proposal for some of the income tax receipts to be transferred to local government.

The responsibility for the administration of voters lists has changed and is again under review following the local elections.

Meeting with Hovik Abrahamyan, Minister for Co-ordination of Territorial Administration and Development of Infrastructures and his Deputy Minister, Mr. Vache Terteryan

Mr. Hovik Abrahamyan, Minister for Co-ordination of Territorial Administration and Development of Infrastructures of the Republic of Armenia, received the Congress delegation in the framework of the election observation mission. The Congress delegation, led by Mr Sean O’Brien, had an exchange of views on mutual concerns: local self-government, local elections, participation of NGOs as observer in local elections, media issues, regional cooperation and the constitutional referendum.

During this meeting the Congress delegation repeated its commitment to continue working with the Armenian authorities to improve the above-mentioned issues.

      Meeting with Mr. Seryan Avagyan, the President's Advisor on Local Self Government issues

The delegation had a useful meeting with the President's Advisor on local self-government issues. Mr. Seyran emphasised the reforms which had taken place and the determination of the President that the elections would meet Council of Europe standards.   He assured the delegation that details concerning polling station locations and addresses would be available to the election observation mission.

The delegation assured Mr. Seyran of the Congress's commitment to working with the Armenian authorities on issues of mutual interest.

Meeting with local self-government NGOs

The Congress delegation organised a meeting with representatives of local self-government NGOs9.

The NGOs informed the delegation that the lack of public interest in the local elections could be attributed to a lack of faith in local power.

The NGO representatives brought the following issues to the attention of the Congress delegation:

    - voter list problems (the registration of deceased persons, people not being registered, people being registered twice);

    - the absence of free and fair elections;

    - difficulties of access to polling stations for people with reduced mobility;

    - the new electoral legislation: the short time between the adoption of the new electoral code and the elections;

    - the problem of group voting;

    - the lack of ballot secrecy;

    - the level of the deposit to be paid by the candidates

The NGO representatives complained that, although the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe had advised in their reports that the members working at the Electoral commissions should not be allowed to touch ballot papers, in practice ballots are frequently stamped after voting, resulting in a number of violations.

The Congress delegation was also informed of irregularities of the electoral process in some of the Yerevan communities, whose elections were held before the delegation arrived in the country.

The delegation also met with Ms. Armineh Arakezian, Regional Representative for South Caucasus from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)10. Ms Arakezian provided the delegation with a detailed explanation of the geopolitical situation of the country. The meeting discussed the existence of clan systems in the Caucasus and the need for more long-term investment in citizenship and more ad hoc monitoring in the country.

While the level of the deposit to be paid by the candidates did not seem to be a problem in urban areas, it was suggested that it had deterred candidates from offering themselves for election in some smaller communities. It was felt that this problem, often exacerbated by the fact that, in some communities, there was only one candidate for the position of community leader, should be addressed before the next elections.

4. The elections: the observation mission

4.1 The election campaign

Media coverage

The Congress delegation held a meeting with media representatives11, since it was not able to follow the pre-electoral campaign directly, During both stages of its observation mission, the delegation heard that there was little national media coverage or interest in the local elections. However, the media representatives stressed that local media interest was greater in the regions outside of the capital Yerevan.

The delegation saw little evidence of an electoral campaign. On those days which the Congress chose to observe, prior to both election days, there was no television coverage of the electoral campaign; no rallies were held on television, despite an affirmation to the contrary by the ruling party.

Public interest in the elections appeared limited, especially among young people.

During the meetings with the media representatives, there was an open exchange of views between both parties. The delegation was told that whereas, during the parliamentary elections, the "Armenian Public TV" station tended to support the government, this was not the case during the local elections. Television is by far the most important source of news in Armenia. "Armenian Public TV" is one of the few broadcasters with republic-wide coverage and is the most influential media outlet. Government pressure on the "Public Radio of Armenia" station was felt to be less, since the station has a smaller audience and is less influential than television.

While it is recognised that the Armenian media are generally free from political interference, the examples of media coverage provided to the Congress delegation did not possess sufficient variety, quality or objectivity to enable voters to make a well-informed choice. However, no incidents of election-related intimidation or harassment were reported against journalists.

With regard to electronic media, the media of the Armenian Diaspora showed little interest in the campaign.

The media as a whole did not provide sufficient information on the candidates and the various political platforms. There were a large number of independent candidates, who were given no air time on television. The national television station did not transmit any local election information.

In general, the media coverage of the election demonstrated that the Armenian media are not yet sufficiently developed or mature to provide quality, balanced information which would enable the electorate to make a well-informed choice.

Equality of representation

The participation of women in the political process remains at a relatively low level. The Congress delegation noted with satisfaction that a number of polling stations were chaired by women and that, in many polling stations, there were a majority of women in the electoral commissions. However, the number of female candidates is still small and cannot be regarded as having reached the democratic standards that the Armenian authorities are striving for.

The number of younger candidates was also considered to be disappointing. In the light of this, the delegation believed that it would be appropriate to develop some capacity-building programmes, assisted by the Council of Europe, to encourage more women and young people to stand for election.

Competition

In most areas, there was a satisfactory level of competition, with several candidates contesting the election. However, there were still a few areas12 where there was only one candidate, denying voters an effective choice. This problem, which needs to be addressed in future elections, is clearly linked to the issues of media coverage and public interest in the campaign.

4.2 Voter lists

Under the new Electoral Code, responsibility for the compilation and maintenance of voter lists rests with the Passport and Visa Department of the Republic of Armenia that registers citizens by their place of residence. Twice a year, in June and December, the Passport and Visa Department shall submit an electronic version of the Republic of Armenia Voter Register to the Central Electoral Commission.

As in previous elections, the accuracy of voter lists was of concern and most political parties have little confidence in them. The Congress delegation received several complaints about the inadequacy of the voter lists. However, it was noted that significant improvements had been made in the quality of voter lists in a number of communities following co-operative efforts between community leaders and civil society organizations, with the support of the international community.

Voter lists were displayed in most polling stations for forty days preceding the elections, enabling voters to check and amend data. The final voter lists were posted at polling stations two days before the election. Any eligible voters who had been omitted from the voter lists could apply to a Court of First Instance, up to and including the day of election, to obtain a court certificate entitling them to vote.

Armenian citizens residing abroad had the right to vote and could be included either in the voter lists of the diplomatic mission nearest their current place of residence or the polling station of their permanent residence in Armenia. Although there are no accurate statistics, it is widely accepted that a large number of Armenian citizens live abroad. There were widespread allegations of abuses in respect to the registration of these voters.

Those citizens who have been recognized as incapacitated by a court ruling, as well as those who have been sentenced to imprisonment by a court ruling that has entered into force and who are currently serving prison terms, may neither vote nor stand for election. In addition, citizens who are undertaking their military service or taking part in military exercises may not participate in local elections or the National Assembly elections13.

On polling day, those voters who did not find their names on the voter lists, were able to cast a vote using a special procedure involving the local court. The Congress teams observed this procedure in Kentron community14, Arabkir community15 and Tavush region16 and found that it operated smoothly. The delegation observed only one case, that of Qanaqer-Zeytun, where the list contained more than 10% of errors. While welcoming the progress made with regard to the preparation of voter lists, the Congress observers considered that there was still room for improvement.

4.3 Polling day

The elections took place over a five-week period. The Congress delegation observed the elections on 25 September and 16 October. The delegation considered that spreading the elections over such a long period was detrimental to the election process, and that the holding of elections on a single day would have made it easier to organise an effective election campaign and to encourage participation in rural areas.

For the 25 September, the Congress delegation divided into four teams (see Appendix III), which were deployed in the two districts of Yerevan where the elections were held17. These communities, being urban areas, are considered to be politically more important than their rural counterparts. In all, the four teams were able to observe more than 60 polling stations. For the 16 October, the Congress delegation divided into three teams, which were deployed in the regions of Armavir, Lori and Tavush. They were able to observe more than 35 polling stations.

On both days, voting took place without any major incidents being observed by the delegation and was found to be generally well organised. Most of the precinct committees which the delegation observed worked very competently, in spite of the labour-intensive nature of some of the procedures.

The Congress delegation observed that voter turnout was disappointingly low in Yerevan, possibly because of the lacklustre campaign, but better in other areas.

Polling stations

The law states that the maximum number of voters per polling station is 2000.   It was noted in a number of polling stations that this figure was exceeded, resulting in overcrowding and long queues outside the stations.   It is recommended in these cases that there be two polling stations in the same building with the voter list divided equally between the two.

In some cases the polling stations were found to be too small, and poorly designed, with insufficient voting booths and inadequate protection of the voters' privacy. This lead to delays in the voting process. The delegation considered that polling stations which need to cater for larger numbers of voters should be of appropriate size and, where necessary, be divided into several voting areas to avoid bottlenecks in the voting process.

It was noted in some polling stations that the necessary equipment had not all been received from the Regional Election Commissions, specifically the plastic ties for the polling boxes.

Some stations were situated on the first floor or in the basement of a building, making it difficult for handicapped people to vote18. Several teams drew attention to problems of access to polling stations for people with reduced mobility.

In some places, campaign posters were observed to be too close to polling stations.

The delegation observed bus-loads of people, some of them identifiable as police, in close proximity to some polling stations. Police were observed to be actually present inside a significant number of polling stations in rural areas and a few in the capital Yerevan19. While the delegation accepted the explanation that the police presence was there to support the election process, it considered that it would be more appropriate to provide separate facilities for the police.

The presence of many domestic observers and candidates' proxies was noted at polling stations, which the delegation viewed as a positive sign, enhancing the transparency of the elections. However, it considered the number of proxies at some stations to be excessive and in danger of hindering the work of the precinct committees, rather than contributing to their smooth running.

There were also number of people present in polling stations whose role could not be clearly identified. The delegation is of the option that precinct committee members, proxies and observers should wear identity badges at all times.

Polling stations, with few exceptions, opened on time, with polling station officials reporting for duty as required.

A few cases of family and group voting were observed. It was noted, however, that there were fewer cases of this than there had been during the previously observed elections. Some cases of group voting were observed by Congress observers. In relation to this, some people justified the need for voters to be assisted on the grounds of voter illiteracy.

The delegation considered that more thought should be given to polling arrangements for citizens living in remote rural areas, where a number people experienced difficulty locating their polling station.

Voting Procedure

The Congress delegation observed with satisfaction the measures taken to safeguard the integrity of the polling process: voters presented their passports, signed the voter register and were able mark their ballots in secret.

Although the passports were generally properly checked, in a number of cases the passport photo was not verified.

After the voter had signed the register, they were presented with a ballot form which was duly stamped. The delegation considered that there was room for improvement in the stamping process, and that the officials should be trained to stamp the forms without handling the ballot papers.

With regard to secrecy, the Congress delegation observed that the location of a number of voting booths did not permit proper secrecy of voting. Furthermore, the sealing of the polling boxes was not always carried out according to the regulations20. At one of the Vanadsor polling stations, there was no sealed ballot box at all.

The compliance of some of the Electoral Commissions (PECs) with electoral procedures was a matter of concern. In this respect, there was a noticeable difference between rural and urban areas, with urban areas generally performing better than rural ones. The absence in rural areas of observers from opposition parties and domestic NGOs may well have been an important factor in relation to the number of cases of fraudulent behaviour.

With regard to the vote count, the Congress delegation enjoyed good co-operation with the members of the polling board. The counting process observed was rated as “clear”.

The procedure requiring the marking of ballots by a standard symbol (V sign) appeared to be well understood by voters, with some exceptions. According to the electoral law, a ballot paper is considered invalid if it contains inter alia marks in favour of more than one candidate (Art 58 Electoral Code). However, a ballot paper is considered valid if the voter’s intention is clear and unambiguous, and if it contains no marks that may reveal the voter’s identity. The system used in these elections was a V sign on each ballot paper. In some cases, the V sign was not clearly marked. The delegation considered that, in such cases, it should fall to the chairperson of the electoral commission, in consultation with the proxies, to declare a ballot paper null and void.

5. Recommendations

The holding of these local elections are a clear sign of the determination of the Armenian authorities to continue with the process of democratisation. However, there remain a number of grey areas that the Armenian authorities will need to address. The Congress, for its part, will renew its efforts to help this Council of Europe member state to achieve further progress in this respect, for the general benefit of its population.

Significant progress was observed in the setting up and organisation of the elections, compared with those held in 2002. This demonstrates the willingness of the Armenian authorities to take into account the conclusions of the Congress observers following the 2002 elections.

However, more progress is called for with regard to the education and training of elected and appointed officials. According to Article 86 of the Electoral Code, training for Precinct Electoral Commissions shall be mandatory as from 1 January 2006. While the delegation welcomes this amendment to the electoral law, it regrets that the training will only begin after these elections and after the referendum planned for November 2005. It proposed that training be provided not only for the Presidents of Commissions but for the entire team. Furthermore, the delegation recommends that any special education and training programmes be drawn up and organised with the assistance of ENTO.

It is widely accepted that the holding of local elections is an important first step to the development of local self-government as an essential feature of a democratic society. However, there are certain conditions to be met. In addition to a sound legal electoral framework, the practical implementation of certain basic political rights and freedoms, including the freedom of expression and association, is essential.

In observing these elections, the Congress delegation noted with satisfaction that the election proceeded in a peaceful and orderly fashion, although there were cases of overcrowding in a number of precincts.

The 2005 Armenian local elections, the first to be held under the New Electoral Code, were an important step towards compliance with the country's obligations and commitments as a Council of Europe member state. They were also an important test for the forthcoming constitutional referendum in November 2005.

Convinced that local elections are a vital means of developing democracy, and that, in the light of this, every effort should be made to improve the conditions under which they are held, the Congress therefore recommends the following measures to improve the holding of future elections in Armenia:

    scheduling of the election

    - future elections should be held on a single day throughout the country.

    training and conduct of officials

    - the training of polling board members should be improved to minimise procedural irregularities and ensure the proper conduct of voting and vote counting as prescribed by law;

    - electoral officials should be trained to take appropriate action to prevent group voting and family voting

    - the training programmes should be drawn up and organised with the assistance of ENTO.

    access to media

    - measures should be taken to ensure that all political parties enjoy equal access to the media;

    voter lists

    - the updating of voter lists should continue, to enable all voters to be properly registered, if possible in time for the next elections.

    deposits

    - the level of candidate deposits should be reduced to encourage more candidates in rural communities

    equality of representation

    - Significant and sustainable steps should be taken to increase the participation of women and young people in the electoral process and especially to improve their representation as candidates and in parliament.

    polling stations

    - care should be taken to ensure that the passport photo is verified during the checking of passports

    - care should be taken to ensure that the principle of one station per 2000 registered voters is rigorously applied

    - polling stations should be of appropriate size and, where necessary, partitioned into several rooms to ensure an efficient voting process.

    - stations should and offer unimpeded access to elderly and disabled voters

    - care should be taken to ensure that there is no police presence in or adjacent to polling stations

    - care should be taken to ensure that there are campaign posters displayed in or adjacent to polling stations

    - precinct committee members, proxies and observers should be required to wear identity badges at all times.

APPENDIX I


The Congress

of Local and Regional Authorities

Election observation mission

Local elections in Armenia (22-27 September 2005)

FINAL PROGRAMME

21 September, Wednesday

23.00 Late Arrival of the Congress delegation

22 September, Thursday

5.00 Arrival of the Congress Secretariat

Meetings start from 16.00 (as requested by the Secretariat)

15.00- 16.00 Congress delegation Ad Hoc meeting

16.10 – 17.30 Media NGOs & individual journalists

17.45 - 18.30 LSG NGOs

23 September, Friday

10.00-10.55 Hovik Abrahamyan, Minister for Territorial Administration, Vache Terteryan, Deputy

    Minister

11.00-11.30 G. Beglaryan, candidate (Kentron Community)

11.30 - 12.00 R. Khachatryan candidate from the Opposition Justice bloc (Kentron Community)

12.00 -12.30 National Democratic Institute, IDEA

14.15 -14.55 OSCE Ambasador

15.00 -15.45 Opposition (Justice bloc, National Unity, Republic)

16.00-16.45 Ruling Coalition

17.35-18.05 Seyran Avagyan, the President` s Advisor on LSG issues (the President Office)

24 September, Saturday

10.00 - 11.30 Central Election Commission: Chairman

12.00 - 14.00 Lunch

14.10 - 15.00 Congress Armenian Delegation

15.00 - 15.30 Ad hoc meeting

15.40 - 17.30 Community council Members Qanaqer Zeytun

17.45 - 18.45 Davfid Gyulumyan, Candidate from Arabkir

15.15 - 16.15 Vache Terteryan, Deputy Minister for Territorial Organisation

25 September, Sunday

Election day – Yerevan City (3 groups)

26 September, Monday

12.00 Informal meeting with the Press (Golden Palace Hotel)

27 September, Tuesday

Congress delegation departure

APPENDIX II


The Congress

of Local and Regional Authorities


Election Observation Mission

Local Elections in Armenia (13-17 October 2005)

FINAL PROGRAMME

13 October, Thursday

Late Arrival of the Congress delegation

14 October, Friday

9.00 - 9.30 Congress delegation ad Hoc meeting

9.30 - 10.45 Meeting with Media (Ani Plaza Hotel)

10.45 - 11.30 Meeting with Bojana URUMOVA, SRSG in Armenia (Ani Plaza Hotel)

12.00 - 12.40 Meeting with Valdimir Pryakhin, head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan

14.30 - 16.00 Armenian Congress Delegation (Emin Yeritsyan + 2 other members of the delegation)

18.30 - 19.30 Central Election Commission: Chairman

15 October, Saturday

7.00 Deployment to the Regions (Team 1: Armavir, Team 2: Lori, Team 3: Tavush)

Each Team will have in their Regions the following meetings:

11.00 -11.45 Meeting with Marzpets

12.00 -13.00 Regional Electoral Commission

13.00 -14.30 Lunch

14.45 -16.00 Candidates

16.05 -17.15 Local Media


16 October, Sunday

Election day - Election Observation Mission

17 October, Monday

8.00 - 12.00 Return to Yerevan from the Regions

12.30 - 14.30 Debriefing Lunch

15.00 Press- conference (Ani Plaza Hotel)

APPENDIX III


The Congress

of Local and Regional Authorities

Composition and deployment of teams

1st stage of Election observation (25 September 2005)

     

TEAM

DEPLOYMENT AREA

COMPOSITION OF TEAMS

1

City of Yerevan

(Arabkir and Kentron Districts)

Alain Chenard (France, Honorary member of the Congress)

Jean-Philippe Bozouls (Congress Secretariat)

2

City of Yerevan

(Arabkir and Kentron Districts)

Christopher Newbury (UK, EPP/CD)

Lars Molin (Sweden, EPP/CD)

3

City of Yerevan

(Arabkir and Kentron Districts)

David Lloyd-Williams (UK, ILDG)

Brian Coleman (UK, EPP/CD)

4

City of Yerevan

(Arabkir and Kentron Districts)

Sean O’Brien (Ireland, SOC)

Ömür Aybar (EPP/CD, Turkey)

Oscar Alarcon (Congress Secretariat)

     

2nd of Election observation (16 October 2005)

     

TEAM

DEPLOYMENT AREA

COMPOSITION OF TEAMS

1

ARMAVIR REGION

Sean O’Brien (Ireland, SOC)

Christopher Newbury (UK, EPP/CD)

Jean-Philippe Bozouls (Congress Secretariat)

2

LORI REGION

David Lloyd-Williams (UK, ILDG)

John Biggs (UK, SOC)

3

TAVUSH REGION

Marja van der Tas (Netherlands, EPP/CD)

Luca Ciriani (Italy, ILDG)

Oscar Alarcon (Congress Secretariat)

APPENDIX IV


The Congress

of Local and Regional Authorities

Congress delegation declares local elections in Armenia generally satisfactory and calm

Strasbourg, 17.10.2005 – A delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe went to Armenia on 25 September and 16 October to observe local elections spread over 6 weeks between 18 September and 23 October 2005. They observed the proceedings in several districts of Yerevan and in various towns and villages in the Armavir, Lori and Tavush regions.

The delegation, headed by Sean O’Brien (Ireland, SOC), included Ömür Aybar (Turkey, EPP/CD), John Biggs (United Kingdom, SOC), Alain Chenard, former President of the Congress (France), Luca Ciriani (Italy, ILDG), Brian Coleman (United Kingdom, EPP/CD), David Lloyd-Williams (United Kingdom, ILDG), Lars Molin (Sweden, EPP/CD), Christopher Newbury (United Kingdom, EPP/CD) and Marja van der Tas (Netherlands, EPP/CD).

The delegation met Hovik Abrahamyan, Minister of Territorial Administration of Armenia and Vache Terterian, his deputy Minister, Seyran Avagyan, Adviser to the President of the Republic, Garegin Azaryan, President of the Central Electoral Commission, as well as members of the regional electoral commissions, local authority and political party representatives, election candidates, the Armenian delegation to the Congress and representatives of the media and NGOs.

"The local elections were generally in keeping with the Council of Europe's electoral standards. The electoral process was generally satisfactory ", Sean O’Brien commented.

The members of the delegation visited some 100 polling stations. Despite numerous allegations of irregularities, they found the election process and, in particular, the organisation of the voters` lists generally satisfactory and an improvement compared to the previous elections. The Council of Europe had, in 2003, suggested changes to the electoral code to remedy the problem of the composition and organisation of the voters` lists.

Although it found the climate generally peaceful during the voting, the Congress delegation received reports of unbalanced and in some cases non-existent media coverage of the election campaign, which had somewhat dulled the debate.

"A livelier campaign for an election concentrated on a single day would no doubt have produced a better turnout especially in the city of Yerevan", said delegation leader Sean O'Brien.

The report on the observation of the local elections in Armenia will be presented to the Standing Committee for adoption at the meeting of 9 November 2005.

Press Contact

Council of Europe Press Division

Tel. +33 3 88 41 25 60 - Fax. +33 3 88 41 39 11

E-mail: PressUnit@coe.int

1 Letter of 27 July 2005 to Ulrich Bohner from Emin Yeritsyan (Head of Armenian Delegation to the Congress)

2 Adjusted by the Electoral Code to a range of 7 to 15 members.

3 In the previous Law of 1996, the chief of community was described as having a “double function”: as an autonomous government body and as a representative of the State authority in its place (Art 4(3)). This provision was not replicated in the Law of 2002.

4 Independent candidate (Kentron Communitiy)

5 Candidate from the Opposition Justice Bloc (Kentron Community)

6 People’s Party, Justice Bloc, National Unity Party, Republic Party

7 Republican Party, Revolutionary Federation Party

8 27 November 2005

9 It´s Your Choice, Information Centre for Development of Local Self-Government, Centre for Electoral Systems, Azat Hayk

10 IDEA is an intergovernmental organization, with a mandate to support sustainable democracy worldwide.

11 Representatives from ARKA News Agency, Arminfo News Agency, Media Max, Armen-press, A1+, Radio Liberty

12 Echmiadzin, Kapan, Sisian, Armavir

13 Art. 2 Electoral Code of Republic of Armenia

14 Polling Station 9/14

15 Polling Station 4/14, 4/21, 4/41

16 Polling Station 40/1

17 Kentron District and Arabkir district; election to community council and heads of community

18 Polling Stations in Arabkir: 4/13, 4/22 , 4/18, 4/14, 4/15, 4/16, 4/21, 4/24, 4/26, 4/30, 4/31, 4/32, 4/33, 4/34, 4/37, 4/41, 4/46, 4/47; Polling Stations in Kentron: 9/13, 9/17, 9/19, 9/14, 9/25, 9/29, 9/34, 9/38, 9/39, 9/40; Polling Stations in Lori Region: 30/38,30/3330/18,30/19,47 31/1, 31/8, 31/5, 31 32/1, 30/51, 29/1; Polling Stations in Tavush Region: 40/1, 41/2.

19 Polling Stations: 4/16, 9/16, 9/14, 4/21, 9/25, 9/29, 4/16, 9/34, 9/32, 9/33, 9/26, 4/26, 4/23, 4/34, 4/33, 4/31, 4/32, 4/29, 9/38, 9/37, 4/24, 9/19, 4/14, 4/47, 30/38, 30/42, 30/33, 30/20, 56/31, 30/18, 50/31, 40/1.

20 Polling Station: 40/1, 41/1, 41/4, 40/2, 41/2, 30/19, 30/55



 Top

 

  Related Documents
 
   Meetings