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No-threshold for elections in 2020

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, August 16
Georgian opposition parties disapprove of the initiative of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party to hold the 2020 parliamentary elections without a minimal electoral threshold.

According to unofficial information, the government is discussing the issue of conducting the elections with a mixed electoral system but with a so-called ‘natural barrier’.

Roman Gotsiridze, a member of the United National Movement (UNM), believes that the government wants to cause controversy in the opposition with non-barrier elections.

“This is an attempt of the government to cause a disagreement in the unanimity of political parties in connection with this wretched constitution and the unfair electoral system,” he stated.

Gotsiridze believes that the Georgian Dream continues a policy of “divide and rule”.

“The goal of the government is to assure the political parties that they will abolish the current election system in favour of proportional representation.

A parliamentary minority party, European Georgia, says that in case of so-called natural barrier elections, the current election system, which is disapproved by the opposition, will be maintained during the 2020 elections.

“The majority wants to win the hearts of small parties by introducing them to parliament and in return they will receive disproportionate powers. The unequivocal majoritarian system should end in Georgia,” Sergo Ratiani from the European Georgia party stressed.

Levan Berdzenishvili, one of the leaders of the Republican non-parliamentary party, says that all opposition parties have one main request – to hold the 2020 parliamentary elections with a proportional system only, instead of the existing mixed variant.

“The main discussion is whether the proportional system will be introduced and if the presidential elections will be direct or not,” he added.

Gia Volsky, the Vice-Speaker of the Parliament, says that Georgian Dream will offer opposition parties a meeting in the near future.

“The majority has agreed on all issues but we have not discussed the issues with the opposition. The natural barrier is one of the topics that will be discussed with the opposition parties,” he 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 ruling Georgian Dream decided to delay the introduction of a fully proportional election system until 2024 instead of 2020, as was agreed after the four-month work of the State Constitution Commission and consultations with NGOs, civil society and the Venice Commission.