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Opposition opposes 10% barrier for money

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 22
A political entity that overcomes the 10% threshold in the presidential election might receive 1 million GEL from the state budget. The change in the election code has already been initiated. The planned changes in the election code concern soldiers taking part in international missions as well. The election list of Georgian soldiers taking part in the ISAF mission will be closed to the public. The initiatives pushed forward by the Georgian Dream are strongly opposed by the opposition parties. They call the intended changes unfair and appeal to the majority to change the position.

Member of the non-parliamentary Christian-Democratic Movement, Levan Vepkhvadze, stated that the coalition is acting based on its own interest, ignoring rights of opponents. He stresses that the changes concerning financing of political subjects was firstly elaborated by the opposition parties in the frame of governance of the United National Movement (UNM).

“The changes were drafted by 8 opposition parties. We wanted the opposition parties, that overcame the 3% threshed to get financing from the state budget, however, the UNM agreed on the 5% threshold then. Several opposition parties from that 8 are currently in the majority and they are speaking on the 10% threshold,” Vepkhvadze said, adding that based on almost all the polls, the Georgian Dream is taking initial positions and none of the banks will deliver credits on the political subjects for carrying out election campaigning if the threshold is 10%.

Representative of the non-parliamentary minority, Kakha Kukava, stated that it is important for opposition parties to have financing before the elections and not after it.

Member of the New Rights non-parliamentary minority, Mamuka Katsitadze, stressed that the draft of changes should be discussed with all the election players and agreed until it is passed.

Representatives of the parliamentary opposition share the attitude of the non-parliamentary opposition parties. According to UNM MP, Davit Bakradze, the issues of threshold and allocated money should be discussed within the inter-factional and inter-agency structures.

Head of the NGO Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, considers that political party development is important, “however, it should also be taken into account how much burden might be placed on the state budget after increasing financing for the political parties.”

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili stated that he would get familiarized with the demands of the non-parliamentary minority and “if it is decided that the meeting is needed, we will meet with them, there is no problem,” Ivanishvili said.

One more change in the election code is related to the depolarization of soldiers and making ISAF mission Georgian soldiers election list closed to the public. A statement concerning the issue was made during the meeting with Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania and the head of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Zurab Kharatishvili.

The Central Election Administration of Georgia will arrange special polling stations on the Georgian bases in Afghanistan. Alasania and Kharatishvili also referred to the electoral challenges and other technical issues. At the meeting, the Defense Minister highlighted the politically neutral policy of the Georgian Army. Alasania outlined that all soldiers will vote on the presidential candidate according to their will. “We have set a task that our military servicemen should be fully apolitical. With the Chairman of Central Election Administration, we spoke how to organize polling stations for our soldiers in Afghanistan. We also referred to the technical issues. The Defense Ministry will have constant contact with the Election Administration on the working level,” Alasania said.

Kharatishvili expressed his hope that the presidential elections will be held on a high level with joint efforts.