A group of local civil society organizations, including Transparency International Georgia, Georgian Democracy Initiative, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and UN Association of Georgia, welcomed the ruling team’s decision to hold the next parliamentary elections based entirely on the system of proportional representation and called on the government to meet the remaining demands of the protesters, among them dismissal of the Interior Minister and release of protesters detained on June 21.
“The proportional system with a so-called natural barrier (0.67 percent) is the best option to ensure political diversity and that the voters’ will is translated into parliamentary mandates,” a joint statement released on June 24 reads. “It should be noted here, however, that such a low barrier, as a rule, complicates the formation of the parliamentary majority and the government and increases the risk of fragmentation of political parties.”
The CSOs also stressed that the Venice Commission – the Council of Europe’s legal expert group – recommends the 3-5% barrier in the proportional system, to ensure both fairness of the vote distribution and stability of the political system.
The group also pointed to the government’s responsibility for using excessive force to disperse the rally outside the Parliament on June 20-21 and welcomed the resignation of the Parliament Speaker as “an important development”, adding that the political responsibility of the Interior Minister for the developments remains unaddressed.
Commenting on another demand of the protesters regarding the release of detainees, the CSOs noted that “some of those detained during the rally still remain in the pre-trial detention facility. We believe that the detainees were unable to exercise their right to the fair trial,” the statement reads.
The CSOs also noted that during the protest rallies, “the “anonymous” Facebook pages which have been discrediting rally participants and organizers have once again stepped up their activities.” “Such methods should be abandoned,” the group said, expressing hope that “the government will meet the remaining demands and offer an appropriate response to the legitimate protest of the public.”