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The News in Brief

Wednesday, September 23
Formal Procedures Launched for Draft of Constitutional Changes for Post-2016 Elections

Parliament has launched formal procedures for the Georgian Dream ruling coalition-initiated draft of constitutional changes to scrap the majoritarian component of the electoral system for the elections that will be held after the 2016 parliamentary polls.

On September 18, Parliament endorsed the ten-member commission, which will lead one-month of public discussions of the proposed constitutional changes – a formal process required for any constitutional amendment before it is put to a vote in Parliament.

The proposed changes are not likely to be approved by Parliament as they are opposed by the lawmakers from the UNM and Free Democrats opposition parties, who want to scrap the majoritarian component of the electoral system before next year’s parliamentary elections, not afterward.

The GD ruling coalition has 86 seats in 150-member parliament, 27 short of the three-fourths super-majority required to pass a constitutional amendment.

A group of parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition parties are launching a campaign to collect the signatures of 200,000 citizens required for initiating a rival bill for constitutional changes to scrap the majoritarian part of the electoral system before the 2016 parliamentary elections.

Georgia currently has a mixed system in which 73 lawmakers are elected in 73 majoritarian, single-mandate constituencies through plurality vote, and rest 77 seats are allocated proportionally under the party-list contest among political parties, which clear 5% threshold.

According to the GD-proposed bill of constitutional amendment, majoritarian component of the system should be scrapped by the time of elections, which will be held after the 2016 parliamentary polls – that is by 2020, in case there are no early elections. The parliament, according to the proposal, should be entirely elected through proportional system in multiple-member voting districts. The bill also envisages lowering electoral threshold from 5 to 4%.

In a separate proposal, which has yet to be formally initiated as draft amendments to the electoral code and which does not requires constitutional changes, the GD ruling coalition offers to keep the majoritarian system for the 2016 elections, but to replace plurality vote to elect majoritarian MPs with majority vote. That entails increasing the vote threshold required for an outright victory in the first round from the current 30% to 50%.

The plan also includes redrawing single-mandate districts to provide equality of suffrage – that would put the system in line with the constitutional court’s May 28 ruling, which said that current division of single-mandate, majoritarian constituencies, which vary from each other by number of voters – ranging from over 150,000 voters in the largest one to less than 6,000 voters in the smallest one – undermines equality of vote.

Ten-member commission, which will lead one-month of public discussions of the proposed constitutional changes, includes five Georgian Dream lawmakers; two independent lawmakers – Pavle Kublashvili and Giorgi Gachechiladze, and three civil society representatives. Opposition lawmakers from UNM and FD have boycotted the commission. (

Tax allowances to be imposed for persons who received injuries in peacekeeping operations

The persons who received serious bodily injuries during peacekeeping operations may be exempted from income tax.

The bill prepared by the Ministry of Defense, was initiated in the Parliament by the government. According to the planned amendments to the Tax Code, no taxes will be imposed on the above-mentioned persons’ annual income under GEL 6 000.

The explanatory note of the bill says that the military personnel wounded in peacekeeping operations do not have the status of persons with disabilities as of today.

About 55 persons will enjoy allowances if the bill is passed. (IPN)

43 persons charged with committing fraud

The Cybercrime Unit of the Division for the Fight against Organized Crime under the Central Criminal Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and General prosecutor’s Office, as a result of the operative-searching and investigative activities, brought to justice 43 persons for the unauthorized alteration of the computer data and swindle.

The investigation established that the detainees purchased various services and products through a certain website. The aforementioned persons illegally appropriated services and products of the website by artificially altering the price in the electronic payment orders and indicated 0,01 Tetri instead of the actual price. As a result, the sales company suffered from losses which amounted up to 95047 GEL. Each person brought to justice has already pleaded guilty.

An investigation is in progress on the charge of unauthorized alteration of computer data and swindling, as per article 286, I part and article 180, I, II and III parts of the Criminal Code of Georgia. (