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Electoral reform discussed all across political spectrum

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, November 11
Consultations on the improvements of the electoral environment in Georgia have been successfully started between the Chairmen of Parliament of Georgia Davit Bakradze and the government and non-government oppositional parties on November 10. Welcoming participation of a wide oppositional spectrum in the discussions, Bakradze stressed the importance of the process for the Georgian nation. “The readiness of the oppositional parties to participate in improving the electoral code has come to its logical conclusion and we are starting to work on particular improvements,” Bakradze told the audience explaining that this process which has been motivated by results will be a success if all sides cooperate.

Although several parties have not fully expressed their will to cooperate with the Government, they all describe this process as an important basis for ensuring a well-planned electoral code for the elections planned in 2012. The so-called main parties participating in the election have expressed their interest in at least “observing” the first day of consultations at the Parliament.

The first day of consultations aimed at specifying the format of further negotiations. Almost all of the participating parties have already developed their views on the issue. Levan Vepkhvadze from the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) hoped that the sides would manage to agree on the issues concerning the electoral code which should further define the creation of the relevant electoral environment in the country. “CDM, as the leader of the Parliament minority, feels responsible for the project and we will do our best to bring their process to its logical conclusion,” Vepkhvadze stated.

Republican Party has been among the oppositional parties which have expressed their absolute readiness for starting negotiations on the electoral code with the Government. “We, the parties as the representatives of the “control package” of the Georgian oppositional spectrum will do our best with the other engaged parties to ensure an appropriate electoral environment in our country,” Davit Berdzenishvili, the member of the Republican Party told the media.

Jondi Bagaturia, leader of the Georgian Troupe who had initially been hesitant about such consultations had developed his view on changes within the code. Talking about the four main aspects ensuring success at the elections, Bagaturia spoke of the importance of access of television, money, electoral administration and the state resources for the political parties. “We will negotiate with our colleagues and the Government if they really want to put the sides on an even footing, if not, the Georgian Troupe is not going to play childish games,” Bagaturia told the media.

Bachuki Kardava, the leader of the National-Democratic Party stressed that the Parliament of Georgia is the legislative body where the main political problems are actually being discussed. Therefore, all the politicians interested in resolving the most burning issues, according to Kardava, should realize the importance of participation within the process. According to the information released by the National Forum they wouldn’t personally participate in discussions with Bakradze due to the arrest of Zaza Chakvetadze, their co-member and the Deputy Chairperson of the Chamber of Control but stressed that they would actively participate in other discussions around the issue.

The Labor Party refused to cooperate in the processes calling it “a farce”. “It doesn’t matter which electoral code Saakashvili-Merabishvili’s union will use at the elections. We will not participate in the farce planned by the parties close to Government,” Paata Jibladze from the party said in a special statement.

Consultations around the electoral code for ensuring transparency of the process initiated by Bakradze considered participation of the international organizations in the discussions. The process should consider the interests of all the engaged sides. The improved electoral code, according to the Parliament Chairman, will by all means be resolved by elections in 2012.

In an interview given to Interpressnews political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze hoped that consultations between the Government and opposition wouldn’t turn into a trade. “I am not optimistic about the results of the consultations between the sides but I hope that the Government will be more constructive than the opposition and manage to improve the code,” Sakvarelidze stated.

Another analyst, Soso Tsiskarishvili, explained that the consultations will only be successful if the Government finds enough power to reach a particular consensus with the opposition. Supposing that the consultations may have some positive results, Tsiskarishvili stressed that the society is not aware of the initiatives which the eight political parties are offering the Government for improving the electoral code and the relevant environment. Thus, the parties, according to the analyst are entering high-risk negotiations.