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Ruling team’s decision on elections is unacceptable for some NGOs

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, June 23
Georgia’s 12 leading NGOs have issued a joint statement in which they condemned the Georgian Dream ruling team’s “private” decision about moving to a fully proportional electoral for 2024 and not for the upcoming 2020 elections, as was agreed in the draft of the amended constitution.

“It can be directly stated that the decision is unacceptable and unfair,” the NGOs say.

The NGOs, which include Transparency International Georgia, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Georgia’s Young Lawyers’ Association, the Open Society Georgia Foundation and others, stress through the decision the ruling team is turning its back on its own promises, and ignoring the opinions of the Venice Commission, the opposition and the civil sector.

“Despite the fact we disliked the formula of sharing of undistributed votes, the five percent election threshold and the banning of election blocs, we regardless welcomed moving to a fully proportional electoral system,” the NGOs stated.

They appealed to the ruling team not to make a “hasty” decision and not ignore the recommendations that were made during four months of work in the State Constitutional Commission and which were agreed with the Venice Commission.

They claim that otherwise, the amended constitution would have been “fitted to the interests of one group”.

After the large-scale consensus about moving to proportional elections, the ruling team has announced they couldn’t agree about the issue and initiated a delay until 2024.

Instead they proposed introducing a three percent threshold for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

However, through the offer, election blocs still remain prohibited.

Despite this, the issue of votes gained by parties who fail to appear in Parliament being distributed among the parliamentary parties has been settled.

Initially, the ruling team stated that the votes should be received in mandates by the party that would gain first place in the parliamentary race.

Now they say that if the victorious party gets less than 89 seats, it will not be able to take more than 89 seats through the mandates calculated from the undistributed votes in the 150-member legislative body.

Georgia has a mixed electoral system, through which voters can cast two ballots – one for a party in a nationwide vote, and another for a specific candidate in a respective single-member constituency.

The opposition strongly condemned the initiative over the delay, saying the ruling team acted based on its “narrow, political interests”.