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Ivanishvili ‘Disappointed’ with Parliament’s Decision, Slams Opposition

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Bidzina Ivanishvili, the chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia (GDDG), who announced in late June, in response to Tbilisi protests, that upcoming parliamentary elections in 2020 would be fully proportional, is “disappointed” that the bill has been voted down.

“Unfortunately, the Parliament of Georgia has voted down this initiative due to resistance of one part of the Georgian Dream MPs, mainly the majoritarians,” Ivanishvili said in a statement of November 14.

With 101 votes in favor and 3 against, the Georgian Parliament voted down the constitutional amendment envisaging transition to fully proportional electoral system from 2020 today. While all of 44 MPs of opposition parties supported the bill, Georgian Dream’s three lawmakers voted against the amendment and 37 abstained, making the bill falling short of needed 113 votes, required three fourths of sitting 150 lawmakers.

Ivanishvili noted that the idea to switch to fully proportional system was never popular among majoritarian MPs, and recalled that during the constitutional amendments of 2017 no consensus could be reached within the party on moving to fully proportional electoral system from 2020.

Ivanishvili said divergent opinions within his party then led to “a compromise” reflected in the new constitution that envisages holding the 2020 polls with the current mixed electoral system, and to transfer to fully proportional parliamentary representation from 2024.

The Parliament approved the new constitution on September 26, 2017, amid opposition’s boycott. Opposition lawmakers did not take part in the vote back then, slamming the ruling party for tailoring the constitution to its own interests.

In his today’s statement, Ivanishvili also noted that if the parliamentary opposition would have revealed “minimum amount of political maturity” back in 2017, instead of advancing its “narrow partial agenda,” they [opposition] would have supported the 2017 constitutional reform, that would have prevented “today’s discussion and turmoil from taking place.”

In that case, “we would have persuaded our majoritarians that the idea of postponing the electoral reform has no prospective, and would have also unequivocally written down in the constitution the decision on moving to proportional system from 2020,” Ivanishvili said.

The ruling party chair also stressed that opposition [referring to the United National Movement] and their “satellites” have met his June announcement with “endless destruction, attempt to cause unrest in the country and the church, with aggressive rhetoric, cynicism, and personal assault.”

Ivanishvili’s announcement on June 24 to transition Georgia to fully proportional electoral system followed a four-day protest in Georgia, triggered by the Russian delegation’s presence at a session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in the parliament’s plenary chamber.

Resignation of then Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia (who in September was elevated as the PM), holding of 2020 polls through fully proportional party-lists, as well as the release of the protesters detained on the night of June 20-21 and detention of those law enforcers who exceeded their duties, were among the major demands of the peaceful demonstrators.

Ivanishvili said, despite the “sharp internal discussions and misunderstandings” within the ruling party, he and other leaders spared no effort to avoid the deadlock in the process. “As the leader of the ruling political force, I once again confirm that I did and will support transition to proportional electoral system from 2020, and I am sincerely sorry that this has failed to happen,” Ivanishvili noted.

He then added that with his team and the government he will guarantee that “the process of Georgia’s democratic development will become irreversible.” “Free and fair elections in 2020 will be the precondition and a clear example of that,” he concluded.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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