Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has nominated three candidates for the chair of the Central Election Commission (CEC).
The candidacies of Tamar Zhvania, incumbent CEC chair, Vladimer Bozhadze, head of the Civil Society and Democracy Development Center, and Mariam Shelegia, an employee of the Government administration, were submitted to the CEC on December 21.
The nominations came a day after the Georgian President held consultations with a group of local civil society organizations.
- Six members are appointed by political parties – three of whom are from the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia. The United National Movement, the European Georgia and the Alliance of Patriots have one member each.
- The remaining five commission members are certified election administrators, who are appointed by the Parliament. Selection and appointment of CEC chair has a separate procedure.
While representative of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association was present at the consultations, the two other leading election watchdogs – the Transparency International Georgia and the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy – did not attend the meeting, saying the process was “pro forma,” and “hasty.”
“As it turned out the meeting was not for real consultations and business-like discussions,” ISFED’s Mikheil Benidze told Civil.Ge.
“The meeting was organized in a very hasty manner, and it was absolutely pro forma; as it seems, the President had already decided who to nominate,” TI Georgia’s Eka Gigauri noted.
According to Georgian legislation, the new chair will be elected by CEC members with a 2/3 majority. If they fail to elect the new chair within five days, it will then be up to the Parliament to fill the post from the three nominees. The legislature will have seven days to finalize the process.
The CEC chair will serve for a term of five years. Tamar Zhvania has served as the CEC chair since 2013. The legislation does not restrict her from seeking second term.