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How to elect the President?

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, March 5
Currently, there are several acute political issues in Georgia. As such, Georgian civil society is preoccupied with discussing the means for which the president should be elected. Should the president by decided via direct elections as it is today, or should the president be elected by the parliament?

A group of individuals proposed a referendum to the Central Election Commission (CEC) in an effort to answer this question.

While referendums are popular legislative tools in European countries, they do present some problems. According to Georgian legislation, a referendum is valid if it is carried out throughout the country. However, it is not possible today, as 20% of the country’s territory is occupied by Russia and their proxy governments.

Minority United National Movement (UNM) representatives highlight this side of the problem. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Issues Committee, Vakhtang Khmaladze, argues that a referendum over this issue cannot be held. The alternative to a referendum is a plebiscite. The difference between a referendum and a plebiscite is that a referendum’s result is absolute, while the plebiscite acts as a recommendation mechanism.

Unanimity on this does not exist within Georgian society. The UNM and its members support the idea of direct elections. Out of six parties comprising the Georgian Dream coalition, five support the idea of electing the president through a parliamentary vote. The issue is differently approached by the non-parliament parties.

Many media outlets carry out their own polling and most of those interviewed support the idea of electing the president directly.

Whatever resolution these debates produce, the forthcoming presidential elections in October will most probably be held according to the existing norms – through direct elections. Any kind of changes that might be introduced to the country could be implemented only in October 2018 and nobody can predict what the situation will be at that time.