The messenger logo

More international partners react to Georgia’s failed electoral amendments

By Levan Abramishvili
Monday, November 18
The Georgian Parliament with the ruling Georgian Dream party failed to deliver promised electoral amendments that would ensure that 2020 parliamentary elections would be held with the proportional system instead of the existing mixed (proportional and majoritarian).

The ruling Georgian Dream party agreed in June of this year that the country should move to a fully proportional electoral system in 2020. The change of the existing system was one of the demands of the protests that were sparked by a Russian MP addressing an inter-parliamentary session from the Georgian Parliament Chair’s seat.

The Parliament of Georgia rejected constitutional amendments on Thursday, as the bill fell 12 votes short after only receiving 101 votes of the required three-fourths majority to pass the constitutional amendments, guaranteeing the change of the electoral system for 2020 elections. Despite the full support from the parliamentary opposition, numerous MPs of the ruling team suddenly changed their mind and opposed the promised change.

As a result, most of the pro-Western wing of the party left the team, including the Vice-Speaker of the Parliament Tamar Chugoshvili and the Chairperson of the Committee on European Integration Tamar Khulordava.

In a special statement, the U.S. Embassy in Georgia expressed disappointment that the Parliament rejected the bill, saying that it considered the move to be an important step in advancing Georgia’s democratic development and building trust between political parties.

The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia have also expressed their deep regret at the failure of the Georgian Parliament to pass the Constitutional amendments.

“We deplore the lack of support for these amendments. The introduction of a proportional system has been called for by all stakeholders for more than a decade, and its introduction was long overdue,” said Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE).

“In the light of the clear consensus by all stakeholders on the need to introduce this system before the 2020 parliamentary elections, the failure of the amendments to pass is incomprehensible. This is a step backward,” added the co-rapporteurs.

They called on all political forces, and particularly the ruling majority, to explore ways in which these amendments could still be passed before the coming elections.

U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, the co-chair of the House Georgia Caucus, released a statement in relation to the scrapped constitutional bill and the protests that followed. The U.S. official noted that the Parliament’s decision came to him as a shock and expressed hope that the Government will carry out its promise to the international community and its constituents.

“During my visit to the country last week, I was pleased by what seemed to be the inevitability of this reform package. This commitment was made to the international community, and most importantly, to the Georgian people. It is my hope that this situation can be fixed – and fixed very soon,” said the U.S. Congressman in a statement.

Kinzinger also pointed out that Russia is a failing country because its repressive governance and that “Georgia is not Russia, and the Georgian people demand and deserve better than what their Parliament showed them today.”

The co-chair of the House Georgia Caucus called on the Georgian officials to resume negotiations and pass the important reform package.

“Georgians want a government of, for, and by the people. They want a government that is more aligned with the west and they want to be recognized as a NATO ally. Failure to deliver this constitutional amendment will be a gift for Vladimir Putin, and will destroy the progress Georgia has made to reach complete independence and separation from an aggressive, encroaching neighbor in Russia,” concluded the Congressman.

As of now, the 2020 election will be held with the existing, mixed (proportional and majoritarian) system. The proportional electoral system will only come into force for the 2024 parliamentary elections, as decided by the Georgian Parliament back in 2017.