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World > Middle East > Armenia > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Armenia - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Armenians voted overwhelmingly for independence in a September 1991 referendum, followed by a presidential election in October 1991 that gave 83% of the vote to Levon Ter-Petrossian. Ter-Petrossian had been elected head of government in 1990, when the Armenian National Movement defeated the Communist Party. Ter-Petrossian was re-elected in 1996. Following public demonstrations against Ter-Petrossian's policies on Nagorno-Karabakh, the President resigned in January 1998 and was replaced by Prime Minister Robert Kocharian, who was elected President in March 1998. Following the October 27, 1999 assassination in Parliament of Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian, Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchian, and six other officials, a period of political instability ensued during which an opposition headed by elements of the former Armenian National Movement government attempted unsuccessfully to force Kocharian to resign. Kocharian was successful in riding out the unrest. Kocharian was reelected in March 2003 in a contentious election that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the U.S. Government deemed to fall short of international standards.

As a result of the May 2007 parliamentary elections, 103 seats of the 131 in the National Assembly (90 elected on a proportional basis and 41 on a district-by-district majoritarian basis) are members of pro-governmental parties. The Republican Party and Prosperous Armenia formed a coalition; the ARF Dashnaksutyun Party signed a cooperation agreement with this coalition. The Heritage Party and Orinats Yerkir remain opposition parties. While in the past opposition parties, despite philosophical differences, tended to vote together on key legislative issues, there has been no agreement among the opposition parties to date to do so.

The Government of Armenia's stated aim is to build a Western-style parliamentary democracy as the basis of its form of government. However, international observers have questioned the inherent fairness of parliamentary and presidential elections during each of the previous nationwide elections (1995, 1999, and 2003) as well as during the 2005 constitutional referendum, citing polling deficiencies, lack of cooperation by the electoral commission, poor maintenance of electoral lists, and access to polling places. The 2007 parliamentary elections, however, demonstrated an improvement over previous elections. The new constitution in 2005 increased the power of the legislative branch and allows for more independence of the judiciary; the executive branch nevertheless retains more power than most European countries.

The Government's human rights record remained poor in 2006; while there were some improvements in a few areas, serious problems remained. Security forces beat pretrial detainees. Impunity remained a problem. There were reports of arbitrary arrest and detention. Lengthy pretrial detention remained a problem. There were some limits on press freedom, due in part to self-censorship and denial of television broadcast licenses. The law places some restrictions on religious freedom. Societal violence against women was a problem. Trafficking of women and children was a problem, which the government took some steps to address.

Principal Government Officials
President--Robert Kocharian
Prime Minister--Serge Sargsyan
Foreign Minister--Vartan Oskanian
Defense Minister--Mikhael Harutyunian
Ambassador to the U.S.--Tatoul Markarian
Ambassador to the UN--Armen Martirossian

Armenia's embassy in the U.S. is at 2225 R Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20008; tel: 202-319-1976; fax: 202-319-2984.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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