YEREVAN — The Armenian National Assembly approved on Thursday major amendments to Electoral Code that changes the legal mechanism for electing the country’s next parliament.to be held on  June 20th. The government-backed amendments passed in the first reading receiving 83 votes in favor.

Armenians have until now voted for not only parties and blocs but also their individual candidates running in nationwide constituencies. In the last two general elections, parliament seats were equally distributed among candidates picked through national party lists and individual races.

The amendments backed by only pro-government lawmakers mean that the forthcoming elections will be held only on a party list basis.

The changes also foresee certain regulations for holding the elections under conditions for Covid pandemic.

PM Nikol Pashinyan announced last week his administration’s decision to switch the electoral system to a fully proportional one. He claimed that none of the two opposition parties represented in the current parliament objects to that.

However, one of those parties, Bright Armenia (LHK), spoke out against changing the electoral system.

LHK leader Edmon Marukyan accused Pashinyan and the ruling My Step bloc of resorting to partisan gerrymandering when he spoke during a short parliament debate on the proposed amendments. He said the authorities must not hastily change the “rules of the game” less than three months before the anticipated elections.

Ruben Rubinyan, a senior My Step lawmaker, rejected the criticism. “Yes, the rules of the game are being changed right before the elections, but they are being liberalized,” he said.

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