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President's veto

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 24
President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili has vetoed the local election bill, which envisages a decrease in the number of self-governing cities and changes to the election code, through which the winning party may have more representatives in the Central Election Commission.

The opposition and NGOs welcomed the veto, while some majority representatives criticized the President and said the veto would be overridden.

There were others as well who stated the President’s remarks would be “carefully studied.”

The proposed changes in the self-government code means only five cities out of the current twelve will maintain self-governing status, which is considered a stroke against state decentralization by the opposition and many NGOs.

Amendments in the election code state that the number of a party’s representatives in the Central Election Commission would be dependent on the outcomes of the last proportional elections.

Now the parties which receive state financing, i.e. which are qualified entities, have their representatives in the Commission.

State funding is generally available for so called "qualified political parties”, referring to those parties – which separately or together with others in an electoral bloc - overcome a 3% threshold in parliamentary elections and a 3% threshold in local self-government elections.

Despite the fact that some political parties failed to accumulate 3% of the votes in last year’s Parliamentary Elections, they still managed to retain the status of a qualified entity based on the outcomes of 2014 self-Government elections, as the next self-Government elections will take place this year.

Now the Georgian Dream ruling team has one representative in the Central Election Commission out of seven.

If the changes are adopted they will have four representatives in the commission, as the votes received by a party in the proportional voting is multiplied by seven (the number of CEC members) and divided by the total votes received by all parties in the proportional contest.

The first number received through the calculation is the number of representatives a party would have in the Commission.

Now the President will send his motivated remarks to Parliament to persuade lawmakers to make certain changes in the draft laws.

"The essence of the veto is to inform the majority, MPs and the public of the negative consequences that will be brought by these changes. Whatever will be the result of the veto, it is important to explain to MPs and people that these two amendments will deteriorate democracy and therefore, it is unacceptable for us,” the President’s Parliamentary Secretary, Anna Dolidze, stated.

The leader of the majority, Archil Talakvadze, stated that despite the fact that the "veto relationship" is not the best form of cooperation, “we will carefully consider the President's remarks”.