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Controversies about the parliament membership

By Messenger Staff
Monday, March 21
There are different issues being debated by the ruling power and the opposition. One of the many burning issues is the speculation as to who will become an MP and how many. 8 opposition parties, which are conducting negotiations with the ruling party over the amendments to the elections code among other proposals, suggest changes on the issue of who should be a member of the parliament. The major controversy concerns the principles of electing majoritarian MPs. These are the ones who are elected directly. Such candidates became MPs mostly by supporting the ruling power – The National Movement. The current elections code stipulates that the majoritarian candidates become MPs if they accumulate at least 30% of the vote. This amount of votes are easily gained by the supporters of the ruling party because apart from its genuine supporters, 30% could be easily gained by mobilizing administrative resources, intimidating, bribing or manipulating the electorate. To improve the situation the ‘’opposition 8’’ initiated the system which suggests that the existing setup becomes a regional proportional one. It has both the features of a proportional as well as a majoritarian system. This way the voter receives information and considers not only the personal characteristics of the candidate but his political and party affiliation. According to the preliminary information, the ruling party does not approve of such an approach. The ruling party suggests increasing the number of majoritarian MPs from 75 to 83. So instead of 150 members, there would be 83 members if this option is accepted. There is another suggestion to elect 83 maoritarians and 83 proportionals – from party lists. This means increasing the total number of MPs from 150 to 166. However this causes another problem. As it is known, in the 2003 parliamentary elections there a referendum was held over the membership of the parliament. And the referendum supported the idea that 150 MPs would be enough for the country. According to the Georgian constitution, the decision received during the referendum could not be abolished unless there was a similar referendum.

The ruling national movement has a well established practice of mobilizing majoritarian – directly elected MPs. The practice is like so: the leading power representatives approach an influential person in the region who is well known and respected, promising extra privileges and promote him as an MP. This is how some analysts explain the situation. This practice as they say was widely adopted during the 2008 parliamentary elections when, out of 75 majoritarian seats, it won 71. Independent analysts observe and mention that during the current negotiation process about the amendments in the elections code, the ruing power is deploying “time wasting” tactics. This allows them to make very slow moves and to male final decisions just on the eve of the elections in a hasty manner for its advantage of course.