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Georgian CSOs Welcome Electoral Reform Agreement

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Five civil society organizations (CSOs), including the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Transparency International Georgia and Open Society Georgia Foundation, released a joint statement on March 9, welcoming the electoral reform agreement between the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition.

On March 8, representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition signed an agreement, which envisages introducing a parliamentary composition based on 120 proportional mandates and 30 majoritarian seats (change from 77/73 system), a fair composition of 30 single-mandate constituency districts, a 1% threshold, and a cap recognizing that no single party that wins less than 40% of the votes should be able to get its own majority in the next parliament.

According to the CSOs, although the agreement does not consider the transition to the fully proportional system as it was required by the opposition and the civil society, it still ensures more proportionality than the current mixed electoral system. “Following the several months of a tense political situation in the country, such improvement of the electoral system is an important precondition to ensure a peaceful and fair electoral environment,” the CSOs said.

The CSO express hope that all the political parties, especially those represented in parliament, “will make sensible measures and spare no efforts” to adopt agreed electoral reform as soon as possible. This, according to the CSOs, would “contribute to establishment of a stable and competitive political environment, and enable all the political parties to timely plan and implement election campaign in a healthy electoral environment.” 

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), a local watchdog, has also issued a statement expressing its support to the electoral reform agreement, noting that “the maximum proportional representation in the legislative body is the cornerstone of this model.”

According to GYLA, “the current electoral system encourages polarization and prevents the public to broadly involve in institutionalized politics.” “Therefore, we welcome the agreement reached on March 8 between the government and the opposition, facilitated by international partners and assess it as a step forward to the democracy,” GYLA said.

However, GYLA regrets that according to the document, “the transition to a fully-proportional system in terms of the need of extraordinary elections will be postponed until 2024.” “Nonetheless, we support the proposed version, which significantly reduces the systematic flaws created by mixing majoritarian and proportional models and allows elections to be held in accordance with the game rules recognized by the parties involved,” GYLA said. 

It then expressed hope that “the process will continue with the spirit of co-operation between parliamentary forces and that the agreement will form a basis for carrying out pre-election processes in a peaceful environment giving the citizens possibility to make their choice in environment free of escalation and tension on the election day, which is a prerequisite for sustainable development.”

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

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