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Use the experience of NGOs, says Alliance

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, November 25
Alliance for Georgia members met NGO representatives at the hotel Vere Palace on November 24 to discuss important issues concerning the electoral environment and future Mayoral elections. They presented the amendments to the electoral code they would like to see and listened to the NGO representatives’ views on this subject.

General Director of the Alliance Zurab Abashidze stated that 11 NGOs participated in the meeting and these organisations have serious and wide experience of observing electoral systems, which is why their active participation in creating the new electoral system and environment has great importance. "The 11 NGOs know the electoral system perfectly, which is why the Alliance decided to meet and discuss important issues with them,” Abashidze said.

At the meeting the NGO representatives and the Alliance for Georgia members agreed that the Government should return to the negotiations on the electoral system facilitated by the NDI (National Democratic Institute) and that these should thus continue. These meetings, involving Government and opposition, have taken place but with no significant results, and the Government has refused to take any further part in them.

Abashidze stated that all the NGO representatives present accepted their amendments to the electoral code and supported the idea of a high threshold for the Tbilisi Mayoral election. The Government is demanding a 30% threshold, which is unacceptable for some opposition parties including the Alliance for Georgia. The Alliance will agree on a 45% threshold, rather than 50% as it initially demanded, but the Government will not accept this. Political analysts suggest that a 30% threshold would give a Government candidate an advantage in a contest against several opposition candidates as he or she would only need 30%, not an absolute majority, of votes to be declared the winner.

“All the NGO members think that the Government should compromise and continue to negotiate with the opposition parties. This will be the most important step in making positive changes to the electoral environment in Georgia. The Alliance does not fight only for its own interest and everyone should see that we are fighting to change the system for everyone. Only after these changes are made can democratic and free elections be expected in this country,” Abashidze stated.

Alliance members also mentioned that there are other important matters which the Government should attend to and in these they should also take the opposition’s and NGOs' opinions into account. These issues include the drawing up of voter lists, the rules for forming election commissions, how election campaigns should be conducted and so on. Alliance for Georgia members consider that the opposition parties' and NGOs' experience will be very useful in these directions too, which is why they are suggesting that the Government should start negotiating with the opposition and collaborating with NGOs more consistently.