Armenia's main opposition party is optimistic about achieving a democratic change in next year's parliamentary elections.
In a statement released this week, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) party led by former president Levon Ter-Petrosian said that "serious and fundamental prerequisites have been created for a change of government, the formation of legitimate authorities, and establishment of true democracy in Armenia during the 2017 elections to the National Assembly.”
Along with three other opposition parties, the HAK negotiated major amendments to the country’s Electoral Code that were overwhelmingly passed by the National Assembly last week.
The party believes the changes, which stipulate the post-election publication of signed voter lists and allow live online broadcasts of voting and ballot counting in all polling stations, will help preclude major fraud during the elections.
"Although the authorities retain the possibility of illegally influencing the outcome of the elections by means of vote buying and widespread use of administrative resources...and in this sense the new Electoral Code is far from being perfect, still, as a result of the pressure of the opposition and civil society on the government, substantial progress was achieved," HAK said.
HAK added that the Electoral Code changes "deprive the authorities of the opportunity to rig the elections" and "exclude multiple voting, ballot-box stuffing, vote-stealing, violence against voters, proxies, observers and journalists."
Considering this, the HAK Board, which met on October 22, announced the start of preparations for a campaign to be conducted ahead of the next parliamentary elections in April.
Amendments made in Armenia's Constitution in 2015 turned the country into a parliamentary republic, meaning that the April ballot will largely determine the next government.
"The 2017 elections will be equal to presidential elections," HAK said, so it is ready to cooperate with all parties and groups seeking a regime change and the establishment of a legitimate government and democracy in Armenia through elections. It said it would include public figures, civic initiatives, entrepreneurs, and individuals in the party’s slate.
"Being convinced that without active participation of the people it is impossible to achieve any change, all steps will be initiated to ensure the broadest possible public consolidation around the ideas of a regime change and drastic transformation in the country," HAK said.