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The News in Brief

Tuesday, July 4
Parliament Approves Amendments to Election Code

On June 30, the Parliament of Georgia approved with its third reading a package of amendments involving the election code and four related laws.

The Georgian Dream-initiated legislative amendments provide a new rule of composition of election administrations and specify various election procedures, including the issues related to the 2017 municipal elections.

According to the proposed legislative amendments, the number of political parties eligible to appoint representatives to the Central Election Commission (CEC) will be significantly narrowed: only those parties will be eligible to have representatives in election administration, which manage to clear the 5% threshold and set up a faction in the Parliament.

Moreover, political parties will no longer have equal representation in the Central Election Commission (one member from each party): instead, the parties will appoint their representatives proportionally to the votes garnered in the elections.

According to current legislation, CEC consists of 13 members including its chairperson. Five CEC members are appointed by the Parliament upon the nomination of the President and seven members are appointed by those political parties, who garnered 3% or more votes in the last parliamentary or municipal elections and obtained relevant funding from the state budget.

Opposition Parties, CSOs

The new rule of CEC composition sparked criticism among opposition parties and civil society organizations, who claim that the new rule will give undue advantage to the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party, since considering the results of the last parliamentary elections, the ruling party will be able to appoint several members to CEC through the political party quota.

Speaking at a news briefing on June 20, Tinatin Bokuchava of the opposition United National Movement said: “The government knows that the upcoming elections will be very difficult and therefore, they try to usurp the election administration in order to manipulate election process and its results.”

Irakli Abesadze of the Movement for Liberty - European Georgia said on June 13 that “the Georgian Dream tries to tailor the election administration and the entire election process to its desires.”

Three civil society organizations – the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, the Georgian Young Lawyers Association and the Transparency International Georgia – released a joint opinion on June 26. Noting positive amendments, the three CSOs also focused on disputable norms, saying that the new rule of CEC composition “clearly aims at strengthening the ruling party’s positions in the election administration.”

In response to their criticism, the ruling party introduced changes to the initial version of the bill, which enabled the ruling party to appoint four out of seven members of CEC, and submitted them to the Parliament.

Georgian citizen traveling to Greece via Turkey goes missing

A citizen of Georgia who was traveling to Greece via Turkey has been missing for 3 days.

Georgian citizens appealed to the Georgian Migration Information Center in Athens with regard to the above-mentioned this morning.

19-year-old Givi Mchedlishvili went missing after he was not allowed to cross the EU border. The young man was travelling to Greece to visit his mother there.

The Georgian Migration Information Center appeals to the General Consulates of Georgia to Thessaloniki and Istanbul to help the family to quickly establish the whereabouts of the missing man