The European People’s Party (EPP), a group of European center-right parties, said on December 23 that it is “deeply concerned” over the recent bill package initiated by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) which envisages, among others, terminating election registration of a party if a person not allowed to vote in Georgia participates in its election campaign as a leader.
EPP said the new bill package is “directed against the biggest opposition party that is supported by one third of the Georgian population,” alluding to the United National Movement (UNM) party, whose leader, ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, heavily campaigned for the UNM from Ukraine and does not hold Georgian citizenship.
“We urge Georgia to continue moving towards declared EU values, and instead of restricting the democratic right of the opposition to return to constructive dialogue, to find a compromise solution which would benefit all Georgian citizens,” the EPP statement concluded.
The legislative package, tabled by GD on December 17, also includes suspending state funding for the opposition parties boycotting the new Parliament. The ruling party MPs endorsed the bill in a first hearing earlier today.
The new Georgian Parliament, elected through October 31 parliamentary elections, opened on December 11 with only Georgian Dream MPs in attendance. All eight opposition parties/blocs that crossed the 1% election threshold are refusing to enter the Parliament, citing election fraud and demanding revote, the demands the Georgian Dream refuses to meet.