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U.S. Senators Risch, Shaheen Praise Georgia’s Electoral Reform Deal

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On March 10, U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, released the statement in response to the electoral system reform agreement between the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition parties.

“I am very glad to see an agreement reached by all sides of the Georgian political spectrum this weekend, and expect to see its full implementation in the coming weeks and months,” said Senator Risch.

“I am pleased to say that this agreement is a critical step towards restoring democracy and good governance in Georgia. As Georgia prepares for parliamentary elections later this year, it is imperative that the agreed upon changes be put into place quickly and honored by all sides,” chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee added.

“The United States looks forward to seeing fully free and fair elections in Georgia this fall, and I commend all parties for making the difficult compromises needed to move Georgian democracy forward,” Risch continued.

“Additionally, I applaud the promise made in the joint statement on Sunday to address “actions that could be perceived as inappropriate politicization of Georgia’s judicial and electoral processes,” and expect to see the release of politically-motivated detainees imminently,” Risch stated.

On March 8, representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition signed an agreement paving the way to adopting an electoral reform for October 2020 parliamentary elections. The agreement 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.

On her part, Senator Shaheen said she is “encouraged to see the Georgian government take the first step in making good on its promise of electoral reforms. This is crucial for their nation’s democracy.”

“Since 2012, we’ve seen Georgia work diligently to make this democratic transition and they’ve made important progress toward that goal over the last eight years,” added Shaheen.

Concluding the statement, Shaheen stated that “I also appreciate Georgia heeding mine and Senator Risch’s concerns about respecting civil engagement and the voices of the Georgian people, which is a core tenet of a democratic society. I’m hopeful that Georgia will continue down this path and remain committed to strengthening their democratic institutions.”

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