The messenger logo

NGOs say German Model doesn’t contradict constitution of Georgia

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Tuesday, November 19
Constitutionalists and the opposition agree that after November 14, when the Parliament voted down the bill on 2020 parliamentary elections to be held by the proportional system the only way of conducting fair elections is by introducing the German electoral system.

Proponents of the German model say it is a fair electoral system that adequately reflects the will of the electorate on the election results.

The draft law on the introduction of the "German model" was registered by the Republicans in the Parliament of Georgia in spring 2016, however, it was not discussed in the Parliament.

Just as today, in 2016, the majority claimed that this version of the electoral system contradicted the Georgian Constitution.

One of the leaders of the Georgian Dream, MP Gia Volski said that he and his teammates had not discussed the matter long at the party meeting since the initiative had been dismissed because of the so-called "no-brainer." The German model does not fit into the current constitution, and constitutionalists can explain this better: "We are convinced that the people who raised this issue are well aware that this will not happen without a constitutional amendment. Nevertheless, they are trying to turn this spark into a process where reality, the law will be lost in emotions and scandal.“

“We cannot enter the constitutional process and discuss the electoral system. This is our clear position,” former parliament speaker Irakli Kobakhidze told reporters about the German model.

Kobakhidze explained why the so-called German model contradicts the current constitution of Georgia. According to him, the constitution states that Georgia has parallel voting system – 77 seats are distributed proportionally and 73 mandates are majoritarian; while German model, “personalized proportional-majoritarian system” is totally different and there are 73 personalized mandates for those lawmakers elected to single-mandate constituencies - all 150 mandates are distributed proportionally; “constitution reads 77, which is not equal to 150; Of course, those lawyers who represent the opposition know this and unfortunately they deceive the public,” said Kobakhidze.

Elene Khoshtaria, one of the leaders of the European Georgia, said that the ruling team's firm rejection of the German model proposal once again exaggerates the lies of the Georgian Dream and points to the absence of a political will.

As constitutionalist Vakhtang Khmaladze explains, to adopt a "German model", that is, to make amendments to the Election Code, only 76 votes are needed and 113 votes, which is ¾ of parliament, is not necessary to change the constitution and adopt this model.

The "German model" does not imply a fully-proportional system of elections, it is a mixed type, and differs from the model that exists in Georgia today. In the case of the German model, the principle of proportionality is upheld and no election subject can receive more mandate than in proportion to the number of votes received. Elections are held in the existing majoritarian constituencies and the winning candidate unconditionally wins the mandate, regardless of the overall outcome shown the nominating party. Election blocks are allowed and the electoral threshold is 3%.

The constitutionalists who spoke with RFE / RL say that according to the current constitution and, in the case of political will, the introduction of the German model should not be a problem.

According to constitutionalist Alika Kuprava, if there is a political will of the ruling party, there is no difficulty in giving the constitution norm, which ensures the mixed electoral system in Georgia, the same content as the German model. However, he explains that political consensus is necessary for this decision and given the danger of GD not entering with the absolute majority of 76MPs independently, the German model is not appealing to the ruling party.

Constitutionalist Vakhtang Khmaladze says that given the current situation, the "German model" is to find a way not to radicalize processes and prevent revolutionary change in the country:

"Why is the German model worse than a fully-proportional system that was not supported by Parliament? Because, as a rule, majoritarian constituencies are usually won by those in power. And it is better because in the German model proportional and majoritarian elections are closely interlinked, unlike our system where results are independent of each other."

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Transparency International Georgia, the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association and the Center for Human Rights Education and Monitoring explain that according to the current constitution, the parliament elected after the next elections will consist of 77 proportional and 73 majoritarian mandates. The Constitution specifies only the number of the proportional and majority seats and does not specify whether proportional and majority components of a mixed electoral system are parallel or distribution of the proportional list depends on the results from majoritarian districts.

“The rule for allocation of seats in both components is determined by the Election Code of Georgia, which, according to the current version, provides for the distribution of seats in the proportional component independently of the majoritarian. This circumstance allows the so-called mixed electoral system to be put in place for the next elections to the Parliament of Georgia by amendments to the Election Code. German model modified version, so as not to change the proportional and majority seats in parliament under the constitution," says the four non-governmental organizations in their statement of November 18.

According to their estimation, given the current situation, replacing by the modified version of the German model will significantly improve the electoral environment and allow a fairer distribution of parliamentary mandates following the 2020 elections.

On November 14, Parliament did not support a draft constitutional amendment initiated by the majority for the transition to a proportional electoral system for the next 2020 parliamentary elections, and not from 2024, as the constitution prescribes.

The bill was voted by 101 lawmakers against three, while it needed at least 113 votes to pass constitutional amendments. The session was attended by 141 MPs. MPs who voted against or did not vote are the majority of the Georgian Dream.

The Georgian Dream has agreed to abolish the majoritarian system for the next 2020 elections as a result of protests that began on June 20, one of the demands of which was to move to a proportional electoral system.

Following a failed vote in parliament, civic activists and opposition parties accused the Georgian Dream and its chairman, Bidzina Ivanishvili, of cheating people and staging protests demanding the resignation of the government and holding a proportional system of early parliamentary elections.