Who knows about Armenia's Constitutional Referendum?
Until this summer there was little public awareness of the president's move to reform the constitution - already launched in September 2013.
In a 2014 poll by EED grantee Advanced Public Research Group, 53.2 % did not know about the planned reform. On 21 August, the president sent a draft constitution to parliament, effectively bypassing any public consultations.
Human rights & other pro-democracy groups are extremely alarmed by the potential consequences of the reforms proposed: transformation into a parliamentary republic, controlled by the ruling party, with the population disenfranchised from electing the president. The deep-rooted lack of public participation poses a major challenge for the development of democracy.
The constitutional referendum is planned for late 2015/early 2016. To pass, it must gather two-thirds of voters, with at least half voting yes. Many pro-democracy groups call for an outright boycott. The Council of Europe calls on authorities to continue discussing the reforms with political parties and the public. It also warns against the use of constitutional change of the form of government to strengthen the power of an incumbent leader.