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Georgian Parliament Passes Constitutional Changes on Electoral Reform

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The Georgian Parliament endorsed constitutional amendments with 117 votes in favor and 3 opposed in a third and final round of voting on June 29, clearing the way for reforming the electoral system in the run-up to the parliamentary polls due in October.

Opposition lawmakers from United National Movement and European Georgia parties boycotted the vote, as their demand to release “political prisoner” Giorgi Rurua had not been met.

According to the freshly-approved amendments, the tenth convocation of the legislative body will consist of 120 proportional and 30 majoritarian seats, while the election threshold will be fixed at 1 % of votes. The bill will also enact a constraint barring any single party that receives less than 40 % of votes from claiming a majority of seats in the Parliament.

Starting from 2024, parliamentary polls will be held based on the fully proportional system. 

Following the vote, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili signed into law the amendments. 

The proposed changes passed the first reading on June 21 with overwhelming support – 136 votes cast in favor.

On June 23, the bill cleared the second hurdle with a razor-thin margin of 2 votes, as European Georgia deputies pulled support for the proposed legislation.

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia welcomed the successful adoption of the electoral reform bill, crediting the Georgian Dream for a huge contribution to “further democratization of Georgia.” He slammed opposition lawmakers for not supporting the bill due to their “narrow-minded” approach. 

Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze dubbed today’s voting as “a watershed,” accusing the UNM and European Georgia parties of failing to “uphold their promises.”

Roman Gotsiridze, a UNM lawmaker, said “Ivanishvili [Georgian Dream chair] succumbed to external and internal pressure, as he risked losing his financial resources and property,” and was forced into supporting the amendments. However, he noted, “only one part of the March 8 agreement was fulfilled,” as Giorgi Rurua remains in custody.

Irakli Abesadze of the European Georgia party said it was essential to fully implement March 8 Deal – by releasing Rurua – in order to finally resolve the political crisis in Georgia.  

The constitutional amendments for transforming Georgia’s electoral system were agreed in foreign mediated March 8 deal between the Georgian Dream and opposition parties.

The agreement was concluded after months long negotiations that started in late November after the ruling party downvoted promised constitutional amendments on transforming Georgia’s electoral system into a fully proportional one from 2020. 

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

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