Ashassi Yesayan, director of the independent centre for direct democracy in Yerevan and initiator of the visit: "Our voting law does not function because the government has too much power. In a report to the government, I made suggestions for improvement." In addition to directing the centre, Yesayan is an advisor to the Ministries of Justice and Territorial Administration in Armenia.
Kristina Aghayan, a project manager at the OSCE, provides support to the Armenian government and administration with implementing good governance programmes. "I'm very happy that six officials from Armenia could come to Switzerland and feel the pulse of Swiss democracy. Above all, I am impressed that opinions of the citizens go from the bottom up to the executives at top. This makes Switzerland almost an ideal."
Nune Hovhannisyan, a member of the seven-member central election commission of the Republic of Armenia: "In my work I identify weaknesses and make suggestions for improvement, most recently for example regarding greater transparency in the financing of political parties."
Liana Ghaltaghchyan, departmental head, Ministry of Justice: "When we prepare legislative bills, we often do not know how we should inform the citizens. As a result, they only learn about laws once they are in force, instead of being brought into the process during the drafting phase.”
Arayyk Aghababyan, representative of the liberal conservative "Prosperous Armenia" party in Parliament. "I find it good that the cantons with two seats in the small chamber of the Swiss Parliament (Senate) have equal weight. But as for the elections to the larger chamber, the House of Representatives, I think it is not right that one constituency comprises 10,000 electors, and another 100,000. This means the chances of the candidates are not the same everywhere. I believe all constituencies should be of equal size. I would therefore propose that mechanisms similar to those that exist for compensation among the cantons be implemented for the Switzerland’s different-sized constituencies."
Ashot Giloyan, department head, Ministry of Territorial Administration: "My focus is on the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government of 2009, which Armenia also ratified. Among others, we have initiated six pilot projects in which citizens were allowed to vote via SMS. Voter turnout was low, however, because the shift in consciousness necessary for more rights to self-determination has not yet taken hold.
Translated from German by Kathleen Peters, swissinfo.ch