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President, PM Regret Downvoting Constitutional Amendments

A day after the Parliament of Georgia voted down the constitutional amendment on transition to the proportional electoral system from 2020, President Salome Zurabishvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia released separate statements and expressed regret over the ruling party’s failure to keep its promise.

The Parliament’s failure to pass the amendment triggered strong protests from the public and opposition parties. They keep on protesting outside the Parliament in Tbilisi, demanding early elections through fully proportional electoral system under the provisional government. The Georgian Dream party, however, noted that it has no plans to hold early elections.

President’s statement

In a statement released on November 15, Salome Zurabishvili said that “it is very unfortunate that such loudly voiced initiative, which echoed the international community’s recommendations and was positively assessed by it, could not be (or was not) brought to its successful completion.” She also noted that “this leads to negative assessments of the processes taking place in our country.”

“When the society is healing from its wounds and, despite the weighty attacks on the Church, doesn’t give in to despair, changes or the absence thereof in the electoral system cannot cause such a dramatic reaction and such outcome cannot be used to create a new wave of destabilization,” the President said.

Zurabishvili brought examples of other countries, saying that there are different electoral systems in democratic countries and that “we cannot say that any of the systems is less democratic than the other.”

“In case of a political will from all parties, if everyone abstains from deepening the tensions and exacerbating the polarization, we will overcome current circumstances as well,” Zurabishvili said, calling on the ruling party and opposition to improve election code and use all means for holding fair elections.

Prime Minister’s statement

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia stressed the importance of proportional electoral system, saying that he will keep promise about abolishing the majoritarian system and that the 2024 elections will be held through the proportional system.

“Transition to the proportional system was a decision which needed certain procedures. Regrettably, this legislative amendment failed to gain the Parliament’s approval, but fortunately, we have included this initiative in the constitution and it will be implemented in 2024,” he told reporters.

Commenting on the rally outside the Parliament, Gakharia said that everyone enjoys the right to freedom of expression and “whatever happens, the state, police will protect the freedom of expression.”

On November 14, the ruling party voted down the constitutional amendment on transition to the proportional electoral system with 101 votes against three.

The Parliament’s failure to adopt the constitutional amendment prompted some lawmakers to quit the parliamentary majority. A total of 12 MPs, including the ruling party’s key interlocutors with the West, have already quit the group.

The Parliament’s downvoting the amendment triggered strong criticism from local civil society organizations, as well as Georgia’s partners in the West.

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


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