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Georgia Ruling Party Ups the Ante, Mulls Switch to Fully Majoritarian Electoral System after 2020

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Kakha Kaladze, the Secretary General of the ruling Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party, said after the parliamentary majority’s meeting on November 25 that GDDG “has closed discussions” on amending the electoral system by the 2020 parliamentary elections.

Kaladze said, considering the current situation in the parliamentary majority, “there are no resources to mobilize 113 votes needed for a new constitutional amendment.”

Importantly, he added that the ruling party “treats with understanding” the proposal voiced by its majoritarian MPs to hold the parliamentary elections through fully majoritarian system.  This comes as dramatic change, since the Constitution – backed by the GD – envisages transfer to the fully proportional system starting 2024 polls. The opposition was demanding the proportional polls to take place already in 2020.

However, Kaladze claimed the party leadership has talked down the majoritarian MPs from tabling the change to fully majoritarian system already for 2020, with an understanding that they “will continue their deliberations in this direction and that the issue of electoral reform will be put for public plebiscite during the 2020 parliamentary or 2021 local elections.”

Refusal to so called “German model”

Kaladze strongly rejected the possibility of holding the 2020 parliamentary elections through the so called “German model” as demanded by the parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition, as well as civil rights activists.

Opposition and legal experts say that the so called “German model” – a variant of the majoritarian system tied to the proportional vote results – does not require a majority required for the constitutional amendments (113 votes), since it can be enacted through changing the election code (76 votes).

The “German model” would see the 2020 polls held – as it is now – through the mixed system, when 73 lawmakers are majoritarians and 77 through proportional party lists. However, the rule of assigning the majoritarian mandates would change – it will be linked to the proportional vote results, preventing any party getting more seats in the parliament, than the share of votes received in the proportional vote.

GD’s official position is that such move would contradict the Constitution. Kaladze slammed “the [United] National Movement and its satellites” for saying that it is not so: “It is a deliberate lie that is confirmed by the simplest legal, logical and arithmetic analysis. We are actively sharing relevant arguments with the public and are ready to present these arguments to all interested persons through various public platforms.”

GDDG vows not to oppose majoritarians that “are not affiliated with UNM”

The ruling party’s Secretary General announced today that the GDDG will not run majoritiarian candidates in 2020 elections, in some districts, where opposition candidates would have a chance to win – with a notable exception of “the United National Movement’s two wings [referring to UNM and European Georgia] and its satellites” – Kaladze did not specify who he meant under “sattelites”.

Kaladze added, that by doing so “GDDG] will open the way for organizationally weak, but respected political groups and active individuals to play an active role in governance.”

The Parliament’s November 14 decision to vote down the constitutional amendment envisaging transition to fully proportional electoral system triggered strong criticism from civil society organizations and opposition parties, as well as prompted countrywide protests.

Like a week ago, opposition parties and civil rights activists again plan to block the Parliament building on November 25-26.

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

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