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Majoritarian part of the electoral system might face changes

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, may 29
The Georgian Constitutional Court has made a decision that country’s existing electoral system, should be changed due to the current inequality of majoritarian voting. The decision over the case was made on May 28, which was filled by the Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili together with other applicants about two years ago.

The Court released a statement that reads it is up to the Georgian Parliament to decide on proportional and majoritarian models of the electoral system provided that the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens will be protected in this process.

“It might be impossible to provide an absolute equality of vote by re-drawing borders of single-mandate districts, but the authorities should try to minimize such inequality,” reads the statement.

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

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.

Also, the majoritarian, single-mandate constituencies fall within the borders of administrative-territorial division of the country, meaning that each municipality at the simultaneously also represents a single constituency. The capital city, Tbilisi, is an exception, which is divided into ten single-mandate constituencies.

Election observer organizations, including Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has also given a recommendation regarding this issue and advised the government to change the system.

The Venice Commission recommends that the variation between in size of electoral districts should not be more than 10%, or 15% in special circumstances.

The Chairman of Parliament Davit Usupashvili said that Georgian Dream (GD) supports the idea of changing the current system.

“The Court’s decision does not mean that the majoritarian component of the electoral system should necessarily be scrapped. We just need to change the system. We had a clear position even before the 2012 elections. This is an unhealthy system which has existed for more than 20 years and it obviously needs refreshment. The next step to the changes will be public soon,” stated Usupashvili.

Member of the United National Movement (UNM) Levan Tarkhnishvili said that the UNM and some opposition parties, as well as President Giorgi Margvelashvili, are for scrapping of the majoritarian system.

“However, it requires constitutional changes, which is highly unlikely as it would need support of at least 113 MPs. The UNM had decided to change the system a long time ago. We planned that the 2012 election would be last in such format. However, I doubt that GD will fulfill their pre-election promise and fix all the errors in this system,” stated Tarkhnishvili.