Joint talks on election code fail
By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, November 20A meeting of the Election Code amendments inter-party group was thwarted on Wednesday. The parties failed to agree on the Mayoral elections threshold, as the ruling National Movement proposed setting a 30 percent barrier, while the Alliance for Georgia offered 45 percent.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting MP Pavle Kublashvili of the National Movement said that all resources for continuing to work in an inter-party format had expired. “The ruling party does not see any way to continue working in this format, as the Alliance refused to make any compromises,” Kublashvili said, adding that the National Movement will carry on consultations and discussions on this issue in an “individual format” with different political forces.
The Alliance for Georgia said on Thursday that the ruling party is not ready to hold “normal” elections. “The National Movement does not expect to receive more than 30 percent of the votes in the Mayoral elections, nor does it expect to win in a second round,” Davit Berdzenishvili from the Republican Party, which is part of the Alliance for Georgia, said. “This is the reason why it has decided to withdraw from the negotiation process,” he added.
Members of the Alliance called on the ruling party to rejoin the inter-party group on Election Code amendments. “We are ready to make intelligible compromise but declare that we will not give the Government the luxury of not having Irakli Alasania as a candidate for Mayor,” Berdzenishvili said.
The Alliance also gave other reasons for the breakup of the meeting. Its members said that the parties could not agree on the issue of giving senior posts to opposition members at District and Precinct Election Commissions. “The amendments package proposed by the administration envisaged giving the opposition Precinct Election Commission Deputy Chairmanships but offered us neither Chairman nor Deputy Chairman posts in District Election Commissions,” Davit Berdzenishvili said.
Despite the disagreements on certain issues, the Alliance for Georgia reiterated its readiness to work with “all political forces in the inter-party working group.” “We will cooperate on this and other important issues in order to reach agreements through compromise to promote the establishment of a fair, democratic and free election environment in Georgia,” Zurab Abashidze of the Alliance for Georgia said.
The Parliamentary opposition has suggested that if the parties cannot reach consensus on Election Code amendments the old electoral system will remain in force. “Disagreement on these issues means that the Government will hold the elections with the old system and nothing will change,” Levan Vephkhvadze from the Christian Democratic Movement said.
Some political analysts agree with this. Independent analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze said that the Government might use the situation for its own ends. “The administration has more levers it can use and either it will not change anything in the code or will make the amendments that favour itself,” he noted. On the other hand, Sakvarelidze stated, compromises by the opposition parties might produce the same result - making the amendments in the code favourable for the ruling party. “Compromises might not be beneficial for the Alliance for other reasons as well – the ratings of those opposition parties which have compromised on some issues with the Government have fallen significantly,” Sakvarelidze told The Messenger.