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NGOs active over constitutional amendments

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, May 8
85 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have addressed the Parliament of Georgia with several recommendations over the draft amendments to the constitution, elaborated by the State Constitutional Commission.

The NGOs have issued a joint letter in which they say that the draft amendments violate the principle of fair elections and equality.

The NGOs say that the introduction of the proportional system of elections is welcomed. However, they disapprove of the increase of the election threshold to 5% defined by the new amendments.

They also have remarks regarding the new rule of distributing mandates, according to which if the total number of mandates received by political parties is less than 150, undistributed mandates will go to the political party which receives the most votes.

“The new rule of distribution of parliamentary mandates cannot guarantee proportional representation of political parties in the parliament and will not establish a sustainable multi-party system,” the statement reads.

The third sector also disapproves of the prohibition of the formation of election blocs.

“The prohibition of election blocs will significantly increase the number of lost votes… and it will give an unfair advantage to the winning party,” the NGOs say.

The civil sector asks Parliament to take into account their notes and to lower the election threshold to 3%.

The opposition shares the recommendations of the NGOs.

“The new rule of distributing mandates is absolutely unfair and ugly,” Zurab Chiaberashvili from the parliamentary minority Movement for Freedom-European Georgia said.

The United National Movement (UNM) says that the whole opposition and the NGO sector distrust the amendments.

Members of the ruling Georgian Dream party do not agree with the NGOs’ remarks.

“The 5% threshold is legitimate, as it exists in most European countries and nobody says that it is unfair or disproportional,” Deputy Parliament Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili said.