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Opposition submits 300k. Signatures to the Parliament demanding a change of electoral system

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, June 14
The Parliament of Georgia has started working on the reform of the election legislation. The first working meeting was organized by the Chairman of the Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze on June 13. Representatives of political parties, government bodies, representatives of the third sector and international partners took part in the meeting.

Members of the Working Group discussed recommendations from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) that were published after the last presidential elections in Georgia. It includes issues such as optimization of the election administration, efficient and timely review of the complaints about the use of administrative resources, funding of parties and transparency of financing as well and issues related to the distribution of free airtime.

As the chairperson of the parliament of Georgia told journalists after the meeting, the work process will be built on the recommendations mentioned above. Kobakhidze is convinced that all the issues of principle will be reconciled and political positions can be compromised on many issues.

“There are 27 recommendations submitted (from OSCE/ODIR) and our work process will be built on these recommendations, we will have a discussion on each item and I am confident that we will be able to comply with all the principle issues” - said the Chairman.

However, the first meeting of the working group was not considered to be a success by the opposition. Sergi Kapanadze, a member of Parliament from “European Georgia,” has left the meeting complaining that the focus was directed towards secondary subjects:

“The main issue for the opposition is proportional elections for the 2020 parliamentary elections and all other issues are secondary to this demand. Important issues cannot be the hostage of less important issues,” commented Kapanadze.

Tina Bokuchava, the member of “National Movement,” also left the session. According to her, the change of electoral system for the 2020 elections is a demand of political spectrum and citizens.

Must be noted, that 20 opposition parties submitted the signatures of 300,000 citizens in the Parliament of Georgia with the demands of changing the electoral system. They demand to abolish the majoritarian system and proportionally conducting parliamentary elections in 2020 and not after 2020, as it’s considered in the Constitutional amendment initiated “Georgian Dream.”

A special group was registered in February 2019 to collect at least 200,000 signatures necessary to submit a legislative initiative to the parliament.

The Chairman of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze responded to the issue of collecting signatures by the opposition. According to Kobakhidze, the government offered the opposition a proportional system two times - in 2016- 2017, but they refused. According to his assessment, the parliamentary opposition did so because it needed an excuse not to support the constitutional reform for the parliamentary majority not to earn political points.

Leader of the parliamentary majority Archil Talakvadze said that the parliamentary opposition has repeatedly reiterated that OSCE recommendations are important, but when the working format was created and started working on recommendations, they say it’s of secondary importance: “Another mistake is made. Nevertheless, the work process will continue, and we will bring our obligations to the public and the western partners” – assured Talakvadze.

The CEC chairperson Tamar Zhvania said that she is waiting for a considerable consensus within the working group. According to him, it is important that there’s enough time before elections to work on legislation. The head of the legal committee, Andri Okhanashvili, says that the management team takes responsibility to promote the improvement of the election issues.

The working group will be accepting law drafts from participants until June 24. After the preparation, the first bill is said to be discussed at the beginning of July.