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GD coalition promises equality of election districts and high thresholds for 2016 elections

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Tuesday, September 1
The ruling Georgian Dream coalition (GD) released a statement with regard to the election reform on August 31 offering that the coalition parties will draft a bill over election amendments and present before the legislative body until the completion of the following winter session.

The suggested amendments envisaged ensuring the equality of election districts for the upcoming 2016 parliamentary elections.

The existing majoritarian system over-represents voters from small election districts by giving districts with greatly differing populations one Member of Parliament (MP) each.

As a result, the number of voters in a district may vary from a few thousand to over 100,000 – yet they both get to elect one majoritarian MP. That means the strength of one vote in one district is multiple times stronger than one citizen’s vote in another district.

Currently the number of voters in the largest district is more than 150,000 while in the smallest one there are less than 6,000.

The coalition claimed that the “deviation” form the international standards in this regard would equal just 10% and 15 % in only exceptional cases.

The majority also suggested 50% threshold for the majoritarian race as 73 MPs from the 150 seat parliament are elected through the single-mandate constituencies while the rest seats are distributed based on a party-list, proportional vote.

The majority emphasized that the high barrier would promote high competition and worthy picks.

The Georgian Dream stressed that they were open for consultations and cooperation with all interested sides.

The opposition parties, the United National Movement (UNM) and the Free Democrats, stated that the amendments would not be beneficial for the country’s election environment as they were “superficial.”

They stressed that the majoritarian race should have been rejected and wholly replaced by the proportional mode.

However, through the solution of the current state administration the process was postponed to 2020 parliamentary elections.

The NGOs share the vision of the opposition and state that the current government should keep its pre-election promise and reject the majoritarian elections, as the system benefits only the ruling parties.