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Majority postpones moving to fully proportional elections

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, June 22
The Georgian Dream majority has declared that Georgia will not move into a fully proportional elections (as was promised by them and demanded by the opposition) until the 2024 parliamentary elections.

The decision has resulted in condemnation from the civil sector and the opposition, calling the step “cheating the Georgian people and the international community”.

The majority stated that as the majoritarian elections would be also maintained for the next elections in 2020, the election threshold would be lowered to three percent, instead of the current five percent, and the people will also be able to directly elect president in 2018.

A member of the United National Movement party, Roman Gotsiridze, stressed that the majority “betrayed democratic values” through the decision, as only the ruling team will benefit from the majoritarian elections.

He also said in the situation when the majoritarian elections were maintained, the lower threshold could play no genuine role, as the low barrier meant just several opposition seats will be won in the 150-member legislative body.

Georgia has a mixed electoral system, through which voters can cast two ballots – one for a party in a nationwide vote, and another for a specific candidate in a respective single-member constituency.

A total of 73 lawmakers in the 150-member legislative body are elected from 73 single-member districts, known as “majoritarian” mandates, and 77 seats are distributed among parties which clear a 5% threshold in a nationwide vote.

The rejection of the majoritarian model of the elections has been long demanded by the NGOs and the opposition.

In the draft of the constitutional amendments, which has now been sent to the Venice Commission for recommendations, the ruling team initiated the replacement of the majoritarian model.

However, now it says that the proposed amendment, which was promised by the Georgian Dream ahead of the 2012 Parliamentary elections, will not come into play until 2024.

In the last year’s Parliamentary elections, the ruling team won almost all majoritarian constituencies and gained 115 seats in the 150-member legislative body.

Later, one MP from another party also joined them, and now the Georgian Dream has 116 MPs in Parliament and holds a constitutional majority, which enables them to put changes in all laws without the opposition’s support.