A group of 17 local civil society organizations, including International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Transparency International Georgia, Georgian Young Lawyers Association and Georgian Democracy Initiative released a statement on November 14, shortly after the Parliament voted down the constitutional amendment on transition to the proportional electoral system, laying entire responsibility on Bidzina Ivanishvili, chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party that the amendment failed to pass.
“In an effort to cling to power and maintain a state capture, Bidzina Ivanishvili is seemingly prepared to make use of an unfair election system to deprive voters of the opportunity to participate in the governance of the country and to unjustly seize parliamentary mandates,” the statement reads.
The group noted that “the transition to a fully proportional election system was not only the promise of a single political entity or the will of a small segment of the public, but it was the demand of the entire society and was supported by nearly all political parties and public groups.” It also added that the decision of the Georgian Dream to backtrack on their key promise to change the election system “can prove to be a pivotal point in the democratic development of the country.”
“It was clear to the government that this decision would result in mass public uproar and we have a reason to believe the government intentionally aggravated the situation in the past couple of days. This could be explained by the desire to cling to power by holding early parliamentary elections through the old election system,” the statement reads.
“We call on Bidzina Ivanishvili and the Georgian Dream, to reflect on the serious political crisis in the country and take appropriate measures to overcome them, for which there is no alternative but to immediately ensure the transition into a fully proportional election system,” CSOs added.
The ruling party backtracked on its key promise to Tbilisi Protests. On June 24, Georgian Dream announced that parliamentary elections in 2020 would be held fully proportional with zero threshold. The announcement followed the protest rallies in Tbilisi, triggered by the Russian delegation’s presence at a session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in the parliament’s plenary chamber on June 20. Holding 2020 parliamentary elections through proportional party-lists was one of the main demands of protesters.