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Christian Democrats want directly elected Mayors in every city

By Londa Mindiashvili
Tuesday, October 20
The Christian Democratic Movement of Georgia began to collect signatures on a petition demanding the direct election of Mayors in Georgia’s major regional cities, such as Batumi, Poti, Rustavi and Kutaisi, on 19 October.

Leader of the Christian Democratic Movement Giorgi Targamadze visited Rustavi yesterday. He held a briefing, met with residents outside City Hall and called upon the citizens to support the party’s initiative. The head of the regional office of the Christian Democratic Movement was the first to sign the petition. Targamadze stated that the direct election of Mayors is one of the basic elements in the development of democracy in the country and without this it will be impossible to develop regional democracy. The main purpose of the petition is to discern the opinions and wishes of the population about improving Georgia’s local government system. “As the decision to directly elect the Tbilisi Mayor has been taken by politicians it is unjust that residents of the other cities with their own local government bodies do not have the same right to vote for their Mayors in the same way,” added Targamadze

Targamadze said that the signatures will be presented to the Parliament of Georgia and the special commission working on changes to the electoral code. He hops this initiative will enjoy great support from the population of the major cities and the process of achieving this change will proceed very quickly and dynamically.

Other Christian Democrat leaders held briefings in Batumi, Poti and Kutaisi yesterday and began to collect signatures there. In Poti mobile groups have been formed to collect the signatures and special tables set up in the city centre at which locals could express their view. Signatures will be collected for two weeks. Head of the Christian Democrat’s regional office Lasha Beraia expressed his hope that the party would collect the maximum number of signatures required in these two weeks.

Conservative Party of Georgia leader Kakha Kukava says that his party welcomes the idea of directly electing Mayors. “However, we do not agree with the Christian Democratic Movement’s initiative to hold such elections in cities with their own local councils only. We consider that the direct election of Mayors is the right of all 75 Parliamentary election districts,” Kukava told The Messenger.

The National Democratic Party of Georgia has also appealed to all political parties to hold consultations regarding the direct election of mayors in Georgia. This idea was voiced by member of the party and Secretary of the State Constitutional Commission Tengiz Sharmanashvili. “Our firm position is that alterations should be made to the Constitution prior to the local government elections in order to prevent the polls being conducted under the previous legislation,” said Sharmanashvili.

“The direct election of the Mayors of self-governing cities is, of course, essential, especially when the local authorities in these cities are not free to act. They are formal and centralised, an indicator of non-democracy. This initiative itself is welcome but I cannot say how effective it will be,” political analyst Gia Khukhashvili told The Messenger.