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Plebiscite Question Wording Undecided

Senior opposition and ruling party lawmakers met on December 16 to discuss the wording of a plebiscite question on the timing of parliamentary elections. No agreement was reached.

The proposed plebiscite – unlike a referendum – is non-binding. According to the law, it must be worded in such a way that can only be answered by a simple Yes or No. It will be held simultaneously with the January 5 early presidential election.

The authorities are pushing for parliamentary elections in late 2008, while the opposition wants polls to be held in spring 2008, as was envisaged before controversial constitutional amendments in December 2006 resulted in a change in dates.

Although a technical matter, the wording of the question has already become a point of political contention, with the opposition favoring a spring-dominated wording, while the government wants autumn mentioned in the question.

“I do not want at this point to go into the details, but I hope we will be able to agree at least on this issue [the plebiscite question]. We will have more meetings on this issue” Giga Bokeria, an influential lawmaker from the ruling party, told reporters after the talks.

According to an opinion poll commissioned by the Saakashvili re-election campaign and conducted by Business Consulting Group (BCG) on December 1-12, 50.9% of respondents said they favored holding parliamentary elections in spring; 23.6% for late 2008 and 25.5%undecided. A total of 13,000 people were surveyed, according to the BCG.


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