The nationwide public discussions on the proposed constitutional amendments, that envisage changing the country’s electoral system ahead of 2020 parliamentary polls, as agreed in March 8 deal between the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition parties, was launched on the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) on June 4.
The respective bill registered by the Georgian Dream on March 11, envisages electing the next convocation of the Georgian Parliament in October 2020 through a 120/30 formula instead of the current 77/73, meaning that Georgians will elect 120 lawmakers through proportional party lists and 30 MPs as majoritarians through single mandate constituencies.
Public consultations, that are required for making any constitutional amendments, are normally held via face-to-face meetings with the citizens. The current discussions, however, are held remotely – broadcasted by TV channels – due to the COVID-19 pandemic fears.
During the two-hour long discussion aired by GPB, members of the commission working on the electoral reform, comprised of incumbent and former Parliament Speakers Archil Talakvadze and Irakli Kobakhidze, respectively, as well as MP Irma Inashvili from the Alliance of Patriots party, and Mariam Jashi, a ruling party MP-turned independent, spoke of the importance of making constitutional changes, and then answered the ready-made questions of the society.
Representatives of major parliamentary opposition groups – the United National Movement and European Georgia – did not attend the discussion. The two parties are demanding from the Georgian Dream to “fully implement” the March 8 agreement, insisting on release of”political prisoner” Giorgi Rurua as a precondition for participating in public deliberations.
The second (and the final) nationwide discussion of the constitutional amendments will most likely be aired on Adjara TV, a regional public broadcaster based in Batumi, the capital of autonomous Adjara region.
In June 2019, to defuse Tbilisi protests, Georgian Dream’s chair Ivanishvili promised switching the mixed electoral system to fully proportional one from 2020, instead of 2024 – the pledge that Georgian Dream MPs downvoted in November 2019. After a political crisis that followed the ruling party’s November decision, the Georgian Dream and opposition parties signed foreign-mediated March 8 deal with a compromise on 120/30 system.