YEREVAN. – For President Serzh Sargsyan, the referendum on constitutional amendments in Armenia was as important as presidential elections.
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office Director Artur Sakunts, who is also a human rights activist, stated the above-said at a press conference on Monday.
“Data issued by the Central Electoral Commission [(CEC)] don’t correspond to reality,” Sakunts noted. “[Ballot] stuffing, unprecedented pressure on observers and journalists, voting instead of those who are absent, [and] the people’s targeted transfer from one [election] precinct to [another] precinct; these are the main violations.”
The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) representative Lene Wetteland, for her part, stressed that there was physical violence against the observers.
Wetteland said the results of this referendum do not reflect the will of the Armenian citizens, and this plebiscite cannot be considered legitimate. She added that they are disappointed by both the campaigning and the actual referendum. As per the EPDE member, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia exerted great pressure on observers and journalists.
On Monday morning, CEC Chairman Tigran Mukuchyan announced that 825,851 people—or 63.35 percent of voters—said “yes,” whereas 421,600 people—or 32.35 percent—said “no” to the proposed amendments.
In line with preliminary data, however, the voter turnout in the referendum was quite low, as 1,296,368 people, or 50.51 percent of the voters, have cast their ballots in this plebiscite.
According to the protocol, there were 2,547,918 people on the main lists of voters in the referendum, and 2,567,047 citizens were eligible to vote in this plebiscite.
The referendum on Armenia’s constitutional amendments was conducted on Sunday.
Following the independence of Armenia in 1991, the Constitution was adopted on July 5, 1995, which is marked as Constitution Day.
The Constitution was amended in 2005, and the country switched from a presidential to a semi-presidential system of governance.
And pursuant to the currently proposed amendments, the country will make a transition from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary system of governance, and conduct completely proportional parliamentary elections.