Tuesday, 20 October 2020

E Editorial

There is no alternative to legal regulation of relations between government and business

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Raised by the Social Democratic Party "Citizen's Decision," the question of depriving the "Prosperous Armenia" Party's leader Gagik Tsarukyan of his parliamentary credentials caused a big stir among the Armenian public. Many have noticed in this demand the "intrigues" of the government – said otherwise, they want to corner the oligarch or punish him for his single-handed decision-making. Few people seem to be interested in the argument itself brought up by the "Citizen's Decision" Party according to which the Constitution prohibits a deputy to do business. Such “trifles” cause very little interest in the Armenian public: Over the past decades, all have become accustomed to the fact that the law is only a mechanism for settling scores with disobedient figures.

Anyway, the emerging excitement actualized the long-discussed topic of merging business and politics, as well as the adoption of a new law on political parties. Mr. Tsarukyan's Party is a vivid expression of the problem of the legal amorphism of the political and economic spheres in Armenia. Taking into account the fact that as a result of the velvet revolution almost all large-scale owners were ousted from parliament and government, the Tsarukyan phenomenon and his party look like an atavism of the dismantled criminal-oligarchic system. It’s not easy to find some rational justification for the oligarch party’s access to politics. Most likely, this was the result of the amorphous policy of the interim “revolutionary” government formed last year.

The problem of the post-revolutionary legal regulation of the political and economic spheres was apparently not well understood by the interim government. And although some theses were voiced at the time by top officials, a conceptual approach has not yet manifested itself. Periodically emerging crisis exacerbated relations between the government and large business entities are consequences of the absence of such an approach. And if these crises still manifest themselves in the financial and economic plane, this time we are dealing with a possible crisis in the political sphere.

Members of the "Prosperous Armenia" Party not only rejected the claims presented to the leader of their party, but also, judging by the information leaks, they threaten to put down their deputy mandates, thereby creating a parliamentary crisis. Apparently, the emphasis is on the current Constitution, according to which a third of the deputy seats should belong to the opposition. In case of a development of events in the specified vein, the ruling party "Civil Contract" may be faced with a difficult choice, up to the holding of early parliamentary elections.

But this is not the most important problem for the state. The situation that has emerged proves once again that post-oligarchic Armenia needs new legislation. Debated ideas about the distinction between politics and business, about the law on parties, about radical changes in the electoral code should not only become the basis for the adoption of key new laws, but also become the philosophical basis for the adoption of a new Constitution. Legal harmonization of the functions of the branches of government in the Constitution alone is not enough.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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