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On to the local elections

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 26
Georgia’s local self-government elections will be held on June 15, 2014. President Giorgi Margvelashvili announced this date during his first annual address in the Kutaisi Parliament.

However, there are many amendments that still must be introduced to the election code. Some promises regarding this code will be fulfilled, others will not.

Unfortunately, the current timetable does not allow for the perfection of the code.

The elections were announced three and a half months prior to the final date. Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili usually waited until the last day before announcing the date of elections, which was 60 days.

This actually created an advantage to his United National Movement (UNM) party. The current Georgian leadership has chosen the democratic approach, by providing equal opportunities to everybody.

Unfortunately, the current voter list also presents some problems. For instance, the government could not secure the introduction of the biometric IDs, which would ensure fairness during the election.

This is a sad fact because before the parliamentary elections in 2012, the UNM also refused to introduce biometric IDs for the election, explaining by having a shortage of time. Today, the Georgian Dream coalition also refused to introduce biometric IDs for the upcoming election– citing the same reason – a shortage of time.

It should be mentioned that in July of 2013, the coalition made a commitment to introduce biometric identification cards. So, this promise has not been honored.

The Georgian population is excited about the prospects of Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, who aired his position about electing the mayors and municipal heads using a 50% threshold.

During the previous local elections, the mayor was elected through direct votes only in Tbilisi, and with a 30% threshold. Now the number of cities with mayors has been increased up to twelve.

Eventually, this amendment should be finalized and the country should have directly-elected mayors and heads of municipalities (gamgebelis).

Time flies quickly; the parliament still has much work to do to fulfill its commitments and promises, and eventually realize the “Georgian dream”.