On December 15, the ruling Georgian Dream party and opposition held the third round of negotiations in “Sheraton Metechi Palace” with the facilitation of foreign diplomats accredited in Tbilisi to discuss the electoral system reform. The meeting proved unsuccessful.
The sides discussed reforming majoritarian electoral system, in particular, the possibility of creating 10 multi-mandate constituencies instead of present 73 single-mandate constituencies.
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The proposed change is part of the so called German electoral model developed by the opposition in response to the political crisis that emerged following the Parliament’s downvoting of the constitutional amendment that would transfer Georgia to fully proportional system from 2020 instead of 2024.
Following the meeting ruling party negotiators spoke of deficiencies of the multi-mandate constituencies.
“Unfortunately, the model of multi-mandate constituencies provides unequal representation and interests of smaller and larger districts” – Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze told the journalists.
Speaker Talakvadze also noted that introducing multi-mandate constituencies would require amalgamating electoral districts, that “questions the purpose of majoritarian system itself.” “We could not agree about this model, but we will continue the dialogue,” he added.
Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani also criticized the model of multi-mandate constituencies. “We did analysis and found out that the discussed model only exists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps, this model more or less works in those countries, but we did say this will not be acceptable for our country,” Tsulukiani noted.
Following the meeting the opposition politicians stated they expect concrete proposals about the electoral reform from Georgian Dream representatives.
“At the previous meeting we agreed that they [ruling party] would state their positions, but we could not hear anything precise [from them],” Giorgi Vashadze of “New Georgia” party said.
“We are still waiting for their offer,” Vashadze noted, adding that “they [the ruling party] are in a bad position as they could not come up with any model that would give them any chance of retaining the power.”
Ex-Speaker Davit Usupashvili, leader of “Development Movement” emphasized the need for continuing the dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition.
“This format [of negotiations] is the only place where the authorities are speaking with the opposition and the international organizations about this issue,” Usupashvili noted.
“The negotiations will continue. This is important to ensure that the authorities are not given any opportunity to run away from this [format of negotiations] too,” Usupashvili added.