“We are not concerned about any changes to the election system. The decision is up to the Georgians,” stated the representative of the Venice Commission, Manuel Gonzalez Oropeza, after meeting with the opposition in Parliament.
Venice Commission members visit Georgia
By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, February 16
Oropeza explained that the Commission is preparing a report about two issues: regional elections and an electronic election system.
On the invitation of the Georgian Parliament, the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR experts held working meetings in Parliament on February 15.
Within the visit, the Delegation met with Central Election Commission (CEC) members, as well as majority and minority MPs. Meetings with the Parliament Speaker, Presidential Administration and various Non-governmental Orgianisations (NGOs) are also scheduled.
The members of the Venice Commission held a meeting with the United National Movement (UNM) and Free Democrats (FD) opposition parties.
According to the experts, the opposition stated they had not been involved in the consultations about the electoral reforms.
UNM member Zurab Chiaberashvili noted that all oppositional parties demand the rejection of the majoritarian election system (wherein MPs are elected by direct voting) and replacing it with a proportional variant (in which the parties receive the number of MP mandates proportional to the votes gathered in the election) for the elections of 2016.
"There is a consensus in the country that we have to change the regional proportional system. Only the Georgian Dream is against the changes, because they want to win the elections this way,” Chiaberashvili stated.
The majority say that the electoral model, implemented by them, was inspired by the Venice Commission.
“The model implemented by us is very close to the model of the Venice Commission. If it is not so, the experts will speak about this openly,” stated Ani Mirotadze, a majority MP.
The meeting of the Venice Commission and the CEC members was held on the background of a rally, held by the former employees of the CEC.
The protesters submitted letters to the Venice Commission representatives and informed them that since February 2016, the authorities of 128 CEC employees were suspended due to political motives.
The members of the Venice Commission will publish their final report by the end of March. The report will include the recent changes in Georgian election code, as well as the involvement of non-governmental and governmental sectors in the election process. The experts will assess if the government has considered all the prior recommendations given by the commission.