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Majoritarian seats difficult, decisive for opposition

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 31
The hottest issue for the forthcoming parliamentary election is those seats directly-elected by the people. Georgia has 150 MPs in Parliament; out of this number 73 are "majoritarians" (directly-elected). Today, out of 75 majoritarian seats, 72 are held by the United National Movement (UNM).

During the negotiations concerning amendments to the election code, members of the opposition ask to create a 50% + 1 principle for majoritarian elections. This would have made elections fairer; however, the administration did not take the recommendation into consideration and elections are still won by near-plurality - only 30% of the vote is enough to declare victory.

The remaining 70% of the vote, while representing the majority of voters, is usually distributed amongst various opposition candidates. So far, opposition parties have not managed to reach consensus about running one common candidate, in order to have a better chance at defeating the UNM. Under the current circumstances, this means that the administration has a clear-cut lead.

Of course, the Georgian Dream movement is trying to challenge the status quo by forming a coalition and bringing up the issue of common candidates once more. Their rally on May 27 showed that they have enthusiastic public support - but now that must be translated into a focused election strategy. If they cannot get other opposition parties to agree on a common candidate, they will need popular and charismatic candidates who will be powerful enough to draw votes from both the UNM and rival factions. Regardless, as it stands today the UNM has both broader geographic appeal, and a built-in advantage in the electoral system.