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Election system reform lingers

By Messenger Staff
Friday, May 1
The greater part of Georgia’s political spectrum demands reforms within the electoral system. In particular they appeal for the scrapping of the majoritarian elections.

The President, Parliament Speaker, parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition members have already revealed their desire for amendments to be made to the electoral system.

However, the Prime Minister and the members of the Georgian Dream coalition still keep silence over the issue.

It should be stressed that the majoritarian elections have always been a main lever of victory for the ruling force.

Georgia has a mixed system in which 73 lawmakers in the 150-seat Parliament are elected in 73 majoritarian, single-mandate constituencies, and the remaining 77 seats are allocated proportionally under the party-list contest among political parties, with a 5% threshold.

The size of single-mandate, majoritarian constituencies differ from each other by a number of voters – ranging from over 150,000 voters in the largest one to less than 6,000 voters in the smallest one.

The international organizations have been repeatedly raising this issue in their election monitoring reports noting that such huge discrepancy in size of single-mandate constituencies undermines the equality of voting.

Opponents of the existing system argue that it can potentially produce distribution of seats in Parliament different from those reflected in proportional, party-list election results.

President Margvelashvili has just stressed that the amended election code was crucial for Georgia’s democratic future.

He emphasized that an election system that pushes more political parties into the legislative body should be introduced.

In the course of their meeting with the President, non-parliamentary opposition parties have stated that only certain leading politicians have not voiced their support to the election reform.

They claim that the Prime Minister’s consent would be essential for the majority’s support to the topic.

Analyst Khatuna Lagazidze reminds the Georgian Dream coalition that the election reform was oneo of their pre-election promises.

“The President, Parliament Chair, parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition stand together concerning the issue. If the government declines participation in the discussion, they will have to stand before the public,” Lagazidze says.

Minister of Justice Thea Thulukiani admits that the current election system requires amendments. However, she is against of abolishing of the majoritarian elections. She stresses that a reform should be carried out and the principle of equality should be protected.

The Minister says that the government is ready to get involved in the reform. However, according to her the issue is more up to the Parliament rather than to the government.

Scrapping of the majoritarian system will require a constitutional change, which needs support of at least 113 MPs. If the decision is made to keep the system, but to reform it by addressing the existing disparity between single-mandate constituencies, it may require amending only the election code without introducing changes in the constitution.