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UNM and eleven non-parliamentary opposition parties boycott by-elections for two MP seats

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, August 24
The opposition minority party, the United National Movement (UNM) has stated that it shared the approach of eleven non-parliamentary opposition parties over the boycotting of by-elections in the Martvili and Sagarejo regions scheduled at the end of September.

The elections are on the agenda owing to the death of Martvili MP and the appointment of Sagarejo Deputy Tinatin Khidasheli as the Defence Minister.

The UNM shared the position of the non-parliamentary opposition parties that the “by-elections would make no difference as the electoral environment in the country still remains unfavourable for the opposition parties”.

The parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition parties keep claiming that the majoritarian component should be scrapped from the current election system that envisages the election of 73 lawmakers in a 150-seat Parliament in 73 majoritarian, single-mandate constituencies under the plurality voting rule; the rest of the 77 seats are allocated proportionally under the party-list contest among political parties, which clear a 5% threshold.

The UNM has also stressed that they were supporting snap elections as the “current government was incapable to cope with the ongoing economic crisis in the country”.

The majority had already stated that the amendments were belated for the 2016 parliamentary elections and postponed the changes to 2020.

However, majority MP Ani Mirotadze said that negotiations were still in progress concerning the issue.

“Nothing is excluded,” she said.

However, the opposition states that the rejection of the current system was not in the best interests of the ruling party and they will not allow such a “ step for the state election system”.

Analysts and the country’s leading NGOs also claim that the majoritarian system should be either modified or annulled.

When it comes to the by-elections, analysts stress that only the majority’s participation in the elections will affect the state image.

However, they note that there might be several opposition parties that will take part in it anyway.

Head of the NGO International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Nino Lomjaria, shared the vision that the opposition's move of abstaining from the by elections might be negatively reflected on the country’s international image. However, she emphasized that the opposition’s joint boycott might support acceptable amendments in the election system that requires constitutional majority, more than 110 votes in parliament.