“Residents are stripped of their right to local self-governance” – Heriknaz Tigranyan

According to the current constitution, community residents directly elect their local government officials every four years. 

The constitutional draft proposes that local governance individuals/bodies have a five year term and that only members of municipal councils be directly elected by residents. 

Community and village mayors will be appointed by the local municipal council and not directly elected. 

The concern is that even today, without such changes, the level of participation in local elections is quite low. There are some studies showing that residents, for a variety of reasons, do not even bother voting for their local municipal council. For one, residents are not even aware that they have such a voting right or aren’t allowed to exercise it. Many just aren’t interested. 

If the changes go through and elections are held every five years, this means that local leaders will have a free ride and be basically unaccountable for five years. 

According to the draft, local mayors will be accountable to the council and not to residents. In other words, residents will be stripped of their right to local self-governance. 

The logic behind this change is that since the council will appoint the mayor, the mayor should be answerable to the council. But the idea of local self-governance is one of individual accountability and the personal capacity to solve outstanding community issues. Thus, anyone serving as mayor must prove their worthiness to the people of said community. Did a given local leader do the best job possible regarding solving this or that issue? 

Heriknaz Tigranyan speaks to Boon TV