ARMENIA POLICY ALERT #6
New law on political parties introduces stricter regulations for party financing, registration, and organization
On January 18, 2021, amendments to Armenia’s Law on Political Parties were finally signed by President Armen Sarkissian. The bill makes changes to the way political parties will be regulated and incorporates recommendations by OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. EPDE’s Armenia expert Harout Manougian provides a detailed analysis of the amendments in our latest Policy Alert.
On 18 January 2021, amendments to Armenia’s Law on Political Parties completed their 16-month journey and were finally passed into law. The bill was passed with widespread consensus following a period of extreme polarization after the November 10 ceasefire with Azerbaijan. Though part of a grander electoral reform strategy dating back to 2018, the process to amend Armenia’s Constitutional Law on Political Parties began in earnest in September 2019, when a Parliamentary Working Group on Electoral Reform was established, bringing together representatives of the three parliamentary political parties, key ministries and governmental institutions, and civil society organizations.
“The process of amending the Law on Political Parties included genuine and intensive consultations, with all stakeholders and was exemplary in that regard. The amendments assume behavioral change which is always hardest to achieve. I am hopeful that political parties will accept the new rules as an opportunity to improve and institutionalize their policies.” – Vardine Grigoryan, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor
The amendments provide for a substantial increase in public financing of political parties, while increasing the transparency of party donations, prohibiting corporate donations, and decreasing the upper limit for individual donations. The bill also adds minimal requirements of internal democracy within the organization of political parties as well as simplified membership requirements for party registration process.
“The changes introduced in the financing of political parties will hopefully contribute to their institutional strengthening and development of programs that will eventually improve the quality of our parliament.” – Sona Ayvazyan, Transparency International Armenia
With the changes to the Law on Political Parties complete, focus has now shifted to amending the Electoral Code. Public consultations on this area had begun in an online format in August 2020. More details will become available on this front in the coming weeks and months.
More information about elections and the ongoing reform process in Armenia can also be found on www.epde.org
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Berlin/Yerevan 04 March 2021