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Next president will be elected in direct elections

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 3
Irakli Kobakhidze, the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, says that the next president will be elected through direct elections by the people.

The Speaker made the statement at a meeting of the Constitutional Commission on Thursday.

“Regardless of what system will be agreed by the Constitutional Commission, the ruling party’s position is to elect the next president through direct elections,” Kobakhidze said.

The Speaker added that the decision was made in order to avoid all kinds of speculations, according to which, the reform of changing rule of electing president is aimed at limiting President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s participation in the direct elections.

“Of course this does not mean that it is the final decision. The Commission was set up in order to continue discussions,” he added.

The Speaker says the ruling party wants to eliminate all pretexts for speculation over the issue.

“The ruling party thinks it is better to hold direct elections this time and then to move to a new system”, Kobakhidze said.

President Margvelashvili’s term expires in October 2018.

Kobakhidze also commented on the parliamentary governance system, saying is the best mechanism to exclude the formation of any type of authoritarianism in the future.

He said the ruling party would keep the existing parliamentary system.

“In 2010, when the reform was evaluated by the Venice Commission, it was noted that progressive steps were taken in terms of moving towards a parliamentary system. Even if it had not been said by the Venice Commission, we believe that the parliamentary system creates more guarantees for democracy and pluralism than a presidential or semi-presidential model,” Kobakhidze underlined.

The issue of moving to the proportional election system from the majoritarian variant was also mentioned by the Speaker.

“We should establish an election system in Georgia which will further strengthen the positions of the opposition; the main tool for this is moving to a proportional election system,” Parliament chairs stated.

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

With the majoritarian election system, only one MP is to be elected per constituency. With a proportional representation system, several members of Parliament are to be elected per constituency. In the second situation, parties are assigned parliamentary seats proportional to the number of votes they receive.

The Constitutional Commission was set up in December 2016 in order to introduce the constitutional amendments before April 30, 2017.

The Commission consists of 73 members, among them experts and representatives of seven political parties, government agencies and non-governmental organizations.