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PM intends to meet opposition to discuss election code

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, January 13
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili will meet with inter-parliamentary opposition groups over the coming days to discuss the election code and related issues.

According to Mamuka Katsitadze, the leader of the New Rights party, he has already consulted with the Prime Minister about the issue.

"A week ago, a letter was sent on behalf of the non-parliamentary opposition inter-party group to the new Prime Minister. We would like to meet him and discuss the election issues. We already have been notified that this meeting will take place in the coming days.

“As for why we would like to meet the Prime Minister, he is the highest responsible person for the proper conduct of the elections. The main topic of the meeting will be the 2016 polls,” said Katsitadze.

The main demand of the parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition is the majoritarian system to be removed from the current Georgian election code.

However, the majority claim that the systemic reform of the election system should be carried out in 2020 and not for the upcoming parliamentary elections of 2016.

On January 8 this year, President Giorgi Margvelashsvili signed majority-initiated amendments in the election code which were adopted by the legislative body at the end of December last year.

There were two major amendments approved in the election code by Parliament; one related to the redistricting of 73 single- mandate constituencies around the country, while the other was concerned with the increase of the electoral threshold from 30% to 50% for Majoritarian Member of Parliament (MP) candidates.

Despite signing the changes, the President stressed that the "amendments had nothing to do with the electoral reform that Georgian political forces have spoken about years.”

The Georgian legislative body consists of 150 lawmakers who are elected through a mixed system: 73 MPs out of the 150-seat legislative body are elected from 73 single-mandate constituencies and the rest 77 by a party-list, proportional system.

With the majoritarian election system, only one MP is to be elected per constituency. With the proportional representation system, several Members of Parliament are to be elected per constituency.

Every political party presents a list of candidates and voters can select a list which constitutes their vote for a political party. Parties are assigned parliamentary seats proportionally to the number of votes they get.

The single-mandate constituencies were disproportionate in Georgia, several of them boasting thousands of voters with others having just dozens.

This spurred discussions that there was a need to somehow produce equal constituencies.

Through the redistricting of the single-mandate constituencies, some of them have been merged and others divided in order to reach a balance.