Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced on Public TV on February 20 that after the revolution, the government increased the role of institutions of local referendums in the context of community consolidation.
The Prime Minister was hosted at the “Interview with Petros Ghazaryan” program, where he addressed a number of issues, including the referendum on April 5, the Pashinyan-Aliyev debate in Munich, the “super prime minister” system, and so on.
The prime minister said in a statement that their government was committed to strengthening the institutions of people’s power. “We will follow the path of strengthening the institutions of the people’s power steadily and consistently. It should be institutionally guaranteed. We have now also increased the role of local referendum institutions, including in the context of community consolidation”, the Prime Minister said.
However, it is noteworthy that referendums on community consolidation took place in Armenia before the revolution and the formation of a new government.
The consolidation program of communities was approved by the government in 2011, and in 2015 the government led by Hovik Abrahamyan decided to implement several community consolidation pilot projects by holding a local referendum in the community.
On May 17, 2015, a local referendum was held in seven communities of Lori marz. Residents responded to the question “Do you agree that the Tumanyan, Martz, Karinj, Lorut, Shamut, Atan, Ahnidzor communities be merged within the Tumanyan Community Center and under the name Tumanyan community?” On the same day similar local referendums were held in Syunik and Tavush regions. That is, three referendums on community consolidation were held.
After the 2018 revolution, the new authorities decided to temporarily suspend the community consolidation program.
However, in February 2020, Ashot Giloyan, Head of the Department of Local Self-Government Policy at the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of Armenia, announced that the consolidation process would be resumed and that the population would be given the opportunity to exercise their right to local referendum. That is to say, in the post-revolutionary period local referendums on community consolidation have not yet taken place in Armenia.
It should be noted that the importance and development of the institution of local and national referendums was also emphasized in the pre-election program of the “My Step” faction, which has a majority in the National Assembly. But last year, in the context of the crisis related to the Amulsar mine, the members of the My Step faction had mixed opinions on the importance of referendums. The Fact Investigation Platform has covered this issue in considerable detail in one of the previous publications, which showed that depending on the issue, the ruling party has a differentiated approach to referendums.
To sum up, we can state that Nikol Pashinyan’s claim that the government has enhanced the role of local referendum institutions (including in the context of community consolidation) is largely manipulative, and such referendums have also taken place in the past.