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New group to change election code

By Sopo Datishvili
Tuesday, December 16
On December 15 Chairman of Parliament David Bakradze announced an initiative concerning changes in electoral code. In the name of the Parliamentary majority he has requested his colleagues to create a special group which will start preparing these. The group would contain representatives of both the majority and Parliamentary opposition.

Possible changes in the code would occur in a number of paragraphs, the clause about election complaints being one which will be studied. If too many changes to the code become necessary, the group will work out an entirely new one.

The Chairman asked opposition MPs for their cooperation. “The working group should unite the majority and minority, everyone who is going to take part in future elections, and for whom a healthy electoral environment is important,” he said. Bakradze also asked that international organizations be involved in the revision process. “Their recommendation was to create electoral legislation at least a year before new elections,” Bakradze added.

The Parliament Chair first began to talk about electoral code changes after he returned from the USA where he met Congressmen. He said that the idea of making some changes in the code had been discussed for a long time within the majority and in the Anti-Crisis Council.

The Deputy Secretary of the Parliamentary Minority, Paata Davitaia, has commented on the new initiative. “the main thing in this situation is to find consensus, as every party has its own position on this issue.” Conservative Kakha Kukava is sure that the initiative is the result of pressure applied by democratic countries. He is ready to cooperate with the group. “We are going to take part in the work on changes to the electoral code. We have already publicized the clauses we think must be changed and will suggest this to the working group,” he added.

Another non-Parliamentary party, New Rights, is also ready for cooperation with the Government. “This is an instance where we are ready to sit at the same table with the Government and be involved in the process. But we ask for the participation of international organizations as well, as we have already had precedents of the Government talking about something and ultimately not doing it,” said New Rights member Manana Nachkebia, who highlighted that New Rights’ priority would be to introduce a 75/75 split of the 150 Members of Parliament, 75 being elected first-past-the-post and 75 by party list, rather than 100/50 respectively as it is now.

The next Georgian elections(local) are due in 2010, and all political parties hope the changes to the electoral code will be finished by then.