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Controversies over single mandate MPs

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, January 10
The final version of the electoral code was adopted by the Georgian parliament on December 27, 2011. It does not however reflect older notes and remarks of recommendations given by the Venice Commission. One such recommendation that was ignored is the big difference between electoral districts, for example where there is an MP representing a district with just 6,000 voters compared to another where there are more than 150,000 voters. These kinds of discrepancies create a sense of inequality.

The Venice Commission recommended creating districts based not on size of territory but according to the number of voters therein. Georgia’s ruling administration uses a system of administrative district division of the country based on its soviet past. This is the basis for this discrepancy. There are administrative districts in the mountainous parts of Georgia where there are only a couple of thousand voters. But there are around 10 districts in Georgia where the number of voters is more than 100,000. The ruling party suggested allowing districts with big populations to have two MPs. That would mean increasing their number, but as we know the number of MPs is remaining the same at 150. So every district will be represented by one directly elected majoritarian MP. There is a suggestion to unite several small districts, geographically located very near to each other, into one majoritarian district. For instance, Ambrolauri, Oni, Tsageti and Lentekhi districts are located in one neighbourhood and could be represented by one majoritarian candidate rather than by four.

President Saakashvili commenting on the issue recently, mentioned that it would be absolutely unacceptable for those districts to have no representation in parliament. “According to our historical and geographical location it is absolutely unacceptable for us,” the President said. His fellow party members also support this idea. At the best such kinds of discrepancies could be improved in the next parliamentary elections scheduled for 2016.

Some analysts think that the Venice Commission’s recommendation is not being accepted by the ruling administration because of the better opportunity to promote a desirable candidate for the ruling party in those small districts. Experience gained from the previous elections shows that majoritarian MPs in the current parliament are almost 100% supporting the ruling power; currently out of 75 majoritarians 72 support the ruling party. So it is obvious that under the circumstances the ruling majority is not going to give up such an advantage.