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Parliament postpones voting on election bill again, opposition announces rallies

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Thursday, November 14
The Georgian Parliament has again postponed voting for the constitutional amendments initiated by the ruling Georgian Dream party, which calls for a transition to a proportional electoral system.

Before announcing the decision to postpone the vote, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze held consultations with the majority and opposition leaders. Talakvadze and other leaders of the ruling party explained that the decision came because there still are some differences between Georgian Dream members.

"I think it would be a wise decision not to put voting at risk today," the Speaker said.

Before the Parliament decided to postpone the vote, a technical break was announced at the session, during which a meeting of the majority factions was held. Just after it was over, the majority leader, Gia Volski, demanded the postponement of the vote.

Dimitri Khundadze, a majoritarian MP in the Georgian parliament, who is opposed to the changes, said that voting on the draft constitutional amendments on the electoral system yesterday would have failed.

He told reporters that the number of opponents of the proportional system was higher yesterday than it was on November 12.

"Our main goal is to plan the future political life of the country properly, while also maintaining team unity,” said Khundadze.

Irakli Kobakhidze, a former parliamentary speaker and a member of the parliamentary majority, said the ruling party saw the risk of failing the constitutional amendments bill and therefore they decided to postpone it.

According to Irakli Shiolashvili, one of the opponents of the changes from the ruling party, he had a personal meeting with the Chair of the Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili. According to Shiolashvili, the meeting was held face-to-face with him, though the party leader also met with other lawmakers. However, Shiolashvili says they are independent and do not think that anyone can change their position using pressure or intimidation.

Also, yesterday morning, after the meeting of the ruling party, Shiolashvili told reporters that he would leave the Georgian Dream if the bill passed.

MP Mamuka Mdinaradze blames United National Movement for the increased number of opponents to the bill. As he said, this is happening because of the “provocative remarks of the opposition.”

Yesterday’s plenary session was not an exception and there was a confrontation between the ruling party and opposition representatives. As Elene Khoshtaria, member of the European Georgia said with the reporters, everything that has been happening in the Parliament for the last two days is a “staged show.”

“Bidzina Ivanishvili gave a promise to the society during the crisis and under public pressure and he has to fulfill it. It is his responsibility,” noted Khoshtaria.

After the voting was postponed activists gathered near the building of the Parliament to protest ongoing events. Representatives of “It’s a Shame” announced that they would start gathering at 19:00, while representatives of the opposition also announced their protests.

According to the organizers of the protest, it is necessary for the people to mobilize to ensure that the ruling party will support a proportional election system for 2020.

UNM chairman, Grigol Vashadze also announced rallies in case of dismissing a proportional electoral system. He said that his party is ready to take to the streets, “if the proportional system is dismissed for the 2020 elections.”

Two bills were presented to the parliament on November 12, one of them was prepared by the ruling party and one – by the European Georgia. Parliament voted for European Georgia’s draft law, but it did not get enough votes.

With the changes initiated by the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority, the elections in 2020 will be held in proportional order, with zero threshold and the creation of election blocs will be banned.

To pass, the bill needs the support of at least 113 MP’s in Georgia's 150-member parliament.

As announced by the ruling party, the Parliamentary Elections of Georgia will be held in the October of 2020.