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Opposition calls announced concession “cynical”

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, September 25
Georgian opposition parties say that two new initiatives by the Georgian Dream majority over the constitutional draft, referring to letting election blocks for 2020 and fair sharing of undistributed votes, are “cynical”.

The United National Movement, European Georgia, Republican Party and several other opposition factions say that their major demands are moving to fully proportional elections from 2020 and not from 2024, and the direct election of the president rather than by a special council.

“None of the demands have been taken into account,” United National Movement opposition member Roman Gotsiridze stated.

Levan Berdzenishvili stressed the offer was “cynical”, as it did not include major demands and added that Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze “cheated the public” when he earlier vowed he would quit his post if the country did not have move to fully proportional elections.

A special statement released by Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze says that political parties will be able to create election blocs for the 2020 parliamentary elections, but this will be a one-time permit and will not take place for the 2024 parliamentary elections.

The second change initiates fair sharing of undistributed votes, distribution of the votes received by the parties failing in the elections between the parliamentary parties.

The changes will come into play for the 2024 parliamentary elections when the country will move to a fully proportional system, the Parliament Speaker’s statement reads.

“The undistributed votes will be equally shared between the parties which will manage to overcome the 5percent threshold and take seats in the legislative body,” Vice Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili stated.

“Georgia will move to the fully proportional elections from 2024,” Chugoshvili said.

Later Kobakhidze stressed that the main reason why Georgia was moving to the fully proportional elections from 2024 was “the lack of readiness” of the opposition for the 2020 parliamentary race.

The opposition strongly dismissed the reason, stressing that the ruling party needs the majoritarian election system in 2020 to prolong their stay in power, as majoritarian elections generally favors ruling parties.

Georgia has a mixed electoral system, with 73 lawmakers elected through a majoritarian race and the remaining 77 via a party list system.

The amended constitution, which has already been adopted by Parliament with two major readings, says the majoritarian elections will be replaced after 2024.

The final reading of the constitutional draft is scheduled for September 26, after the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe sent its final recommendations over the draft.

The majority says that after discussions in Parliament in the coming days, the two changes will be added to the draft.