Armenia: The 1995 Parliamentary Elections, Materials Prepared by the On-Site IFES Team, August 1, 1995
From May 26 to July 10, 1995 the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) sent a team including IFES Consultant Linda Edgeworth, an election administration specialist, and IFES Program Officer for Europe and Asia Scott Lansell to the Republic of Armenia. This on-site assistance was supported by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAlD). The mission's activities centered around the Armenian elections to the National Assembly and the simultaneous Referendum on a new Constitution for the Republic.
The purpose of the mission was to: (1) Evaluate Armenia's administrative systems for the delivery of electoral services such as constituency delimitation, voter identification and registration, balloting and election administration, poll worker training, vote tabulation, voter education, campaign practices, and media and civic participation, prior to upcoming parliamentary elections; (2) Identify feasible areas for short-term technical assistance in preparation for the July, 1995 Parliamentary Elections and Referendum, and provide a framework for public- and private-funded assistance projects; and (3) Recommend longer-term improvements to Armenia's election process and forward concrete actions which should be taken by USAlD, and others in the donor community, which would strengthen democratic institutions and processes in Armenia prior to the scheduled June 1996 Presidential Elections.
The Armenian Parliamentary Elections and Constitutional Referendum of July 5,1995 were the country's first multi-party elections since independence in 1991. The on-going political and economic crises that have enveloped the Republic of Armenia since independence added to the complexity of improving the process of democratization. Conducting a referendum and/or elections under such circumstances was undoubtedly an ambitious task. Problems cited by international and domestic election observers included: media outlet suspensions; journalist intimidations; voter registration inconsistencies; the banning of the National Union-Dashnaktsutyun (Dashnaks); the lack of timely and fair judicial review; voting irregularities in military units and hospitals; the Central Election Commission's interpretation(s) of the Election Law and Law on Referendum; and on election day, a unusually high number of ballots disqualified due to poor ballot design and voter and poll worker comprehension and education.
During the mission it became immediately apparent that the need for voter education was paramount in a setting which had precluded meaningful debate on critical issues such as the Constitutional Referendum and the platforms of competing political parties and candidates. There was also a serious deficiency of fundamental information on election day procedures available to the general public and poll worker in a "user friendly" format.
Prior to the July 5 elections, it became apparent that existing plans did not include preparation of educational materials for observer delegations who were to participate in the elections. In addition, IFES determined that a serious deficiencies existed which jeopardized an efficient and accountable conduct of the election. The CEC did not conduct formalized training of poll workers, and did not prepare training materials despite the recommendation of IFES and others.
This report will provide an targeted overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the electoral process and recommends specific areas of support where the services of IFES and international donors proved crucial to election administration and observation both before and after the Parliamentary Elections of Ju1y 5, 1995.
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