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The News in Brief

Wednesday, December 10
Hungary ratifies Georgia’s Association Agreement with EU

After President of Hungary, Yanosh Ader signed the document, the ratified versions of the Association Agreements of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova with the EU, have become valid.

The Parliament of Hungary reportedly ratified the landmark deals with the three countries on Nov. 25; however, only after the President signed the documents, did the ratified deals become valid. (IPN)

Non-Parliament Opposition Pushes for Scrapping Majoritarian Component of Electoral System

Several non-parliamentary opposition parties, which have teamed up to jointly push for change of electoral system, said on December 8 that they are seeking a meeting with PM Irakli Garibashvili to convey their demands involving scrapping of majoritarian component of the system.

Georgia has a mixed system in which 73 lawmakers in 150-seat Parliament are elected in 73 majoritarian, single-mandate constituencies, and rest 77 seats are allocated proportionally under the party-list contest among political parties, which clear 5% threshold.

Arguing that the majoritarian component of this system can potentially produce distribution of seats in Parliament different from those reflected in proportional, party-list election results, non-parliamentary opposition wants the majoritarian part of the system to be canceled and the Parliament to be composed solely by lawmakers elected in party-list contest.

Difference between distribution of seats and votes received in party-list contest was obvious in the previous Parliament, when then ruling UNM party was holding over 79% of seats although receiving slightly over 59% of votes in 2008 parliamentary elections. That was because UNM at the time won all but four single-mandate, majoritarian constituencies across the country.

But it was not the case in 2012 elections, when overall seats won by Georgian Dream coalition and UNM, both in majoritarian and proportional contests, mainly matched share of votes they won in party-list contest.

Mismatch, however, was evident in the 2014 local elections for Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo), when although receiving 46% of votes in party-list contest, GD gained 74% of seats in Tbilisi Sakrebulo because of winning all but one single-mandate, majoritarian constituencies of the capital city.

The size of single-mandate, majoritarian constituencies vary from each other by number of voters – ranging from over 150,000 voters in the largest one to less than 6,000 voters in the smallest one.

Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal and constitutional affairs, Venice Commission, has long been recommending Georgia to address existing disparity as it undermines the principle of equality of suffrage. (

Government closes the current year’s budget obligations

The government closes unfulfilled budget obligations for the current year. The reason for this is the decline in the exchange rate. The ruling coalition vows that devaluation of the national currency will not continue.

In parallel, the Parliament will review the 2015 main financial document for the third. The government claims that next year’s budget will have no problems. But the opposition talks about economic crisis and budgetary problems accusing the government of the wrong economic policy.

The opposition has already prepared a new resolution for overcoming economic problems, envisaging legislative initiatives aimed at improving investment opportunities. The opposition also does not support the excise tax increase.

The governing coalition does not rule out the possibility of discussing the draft resolution. However, they do not share the views of the opposition.

The Minister of Finance will present the budget to parliament, which is to be approved on Friday, December 12. (Rustavi 2)

Georgia sends more soldiers to Central African Republic

President Margvelashvili has asked parliament for approval to again send soldiers to the Central African Republic, after the EU extended its mission there for another four months.

The president’s order was signed on December 2, and has been received by the parliament. It involves sending two platoons to take part in the EU’s EUFOR RCA mission in the Central African Republic, and serve there until the end of March. The president’s order will enter into force upon approval by parliament.

Georgia first sent soldiers to the 700 strong mission last summer. EUFOR RCA was supposed to have ended by November, as a much larger UN Security Council sanctioned force began working in mid-September. But the EU decided to extend its mission until March 15, 2015, to ‘effect the handover of tasks’ to the UN-mission MINUSCA.

David Smith, head of Okapi Consulting, told Deutsche Welle that there is no functioning national army in the Central African Republic. “The national army is either confined to its base or will remain within [the capital] Bangui, or has disappeared in the bush and in some cases taken up arms with the various rebel movements,” Smith told the news service.

The violence between Christians and Muslims began two years ago. The UN has warned that the situation may spiral into genocide. The African Union had a force of several thousand early on. France sent a unilateral force of 1,600 soldiers one year ago, Sangaris, which like the EU mission was meant to be temporary but is still there. (DF watch)