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Parliament of Georgia passes electoral bill at first hearing

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Monday, June 22
The Parliament of Georgia has supported amendments on the electoral system at the first hearing. According to the changes, the current electoral system will have to be changed and 120 MPs will be elected to the next convocation of the parliament instead of 77, while the majoritarian will be only 30 instead of 73. The changes were supported by 136 deputies, with 5 voting against.

Before the voting, it became known that Emzar Kvitsiani, Nato Chkheidze, Bidzina Gegidze, Davit Chichinadze and Aleksandre Erkvania would not support the changes. The National Movement did not take part in the voting either. Also, it was known that the majority MP, Kakha Okriashvili, would not support the changes.

The agreement was reached by the opposition and the government on March 8 after lengthy negotiations mediated by diplomats. The change will also affect the election threshold. Before, the party needed 5% of votes to get into the Parliament, but the new system sets the threshold at 1%.

It was also agreed upon that if a political party doesn’t get more than 40% of votes, it will not be able to form a government. As for the districts, it is known that there will be 8 majoritarian constituencies in Tbilisi.

The Speaker of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze expressed his concern about the fact that the UNM didn’t take part in the voting process even though they used to support the idea.

However, according to the leaders of the National Movement, the reason why they decided not to take part in the voting process is that the ruling party did not do everything they way they agreed to. For example, according to the UNM, Giorgi Rurua, co-founder of the Main Channel, is still in custody.

Davit Bakradze, one of the leaders of the European Georgia, there is no doubt that UNM wants these changes, adding that they have different strategies. According to him, even though Rurua is still not released, it is important for the future of the country to adopt these changes. However, it is still unknown if the European Georgia will take part in the second and third hearings.

H.E. Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia, wrote on Twitter that he had counted 142 votes behind the constitutional deal after March 8th. “Welcome that Parliament today cleared first reading with 136 votes. Hope all sides will take responsibility to ensure its final success,” wrote Hartzell.

Negotiations on the electoral system began after Bidzina Ivanishvili promised in June 2019 that the country would switch to a fully proportional system, but in November the Georgian Dream refused to do so. This was followed by huge criticism from different parts of the society, with a number of members leaving the party.