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Return of independent majoritarian candidates

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, January 17
So called independent candidates will have to have a GEL 5,000 deposit on a special bank account to participate in the elections. The change has already been reflected in the election code and the initiative came from the parliamentary minority Christian-Democratic Movement.

Based on the changes in the new election code, the institute of independent majoritarian candidates has returned. Independent candidates are now able to participate in all kinds of elections. An initiative group, consisting of five members in an election district, will be able to represent independent majoritarian candidates for parliamentary, Tbilisi City Hall and Mayoral elections.

Up till 50 days before the election, the initiative group is obliged to present the list of a candidate’s supporters and the document confirming the existence of GEL 5,000 on a bank account by the candidate to the appropriate district election commission. If the candidate gets 10% of votes, he will get the sum back, otherwise the money will be given over to the state budget.

As Christian Democrats claim, the setting of a financial barrier was very important. “The election list will not to be too long and only people with serious political aspirations will take part,” said representative of the Movement Levan Vepkhvadze.

As representative of New Rights Party Manana Nchkebia told The Messenger, “The decision was right and could be taken as one of the demands of New Rights as well. In general, we were against independent candidates and thought that majoritarian candidates should be presented by parties, however such a formulation was reflected in the law and the decision to set such barriers was important,” Nachkebia said, and mentioned that if a candidate has no material means to carry out a pre election campaign and has no financial resources for this, participation in the elections is useless and simply serves somebody’s intention to become popular or some other less serious purpose.

Despite the fact that the initiative was put forward by the Parliamentary minority, non parliamentary opposition representatives see the authorities’ role and involvement in the issue, especially when the Christian-Democratic movement is not considered an authentic part of the opposition by definite opposition forces. “The necessary evidence of GEL 5,000 is a sign of the authorities’ involvement and a new method of adding to the expenses budget of majoritarian candidates, which is ironic,” leader of People’s party, Koba Davitashvili, told The Messenger. As for the return of the independent majoritarian candidates’ institution, Davitashvili mentioned that he had neither a strictly negative nor positive attitude regarding the issue.

Majority representatives consider that such a change in the law would only help to make a well operated election system. “Any serious candidate will have the opportunity to run if they have such a sum in a deposit, and at the same time if he gets 10% of votes, he will get the sum back. This initiative came from the opposition and we thought that it was reasonable to take it into consideration,” majority representative Nugzar Tsiklauri told The Messenger. As for majoritarian candidates, he mentioned that by the reappearance of such an institute, the principle of democracy is protected and all the citizens of Georgia will be able to participate in elections. For the initiative to be used properly however, and not for insincere reasons such as entertainment and so on, a financial barrier was set by us.”