Central Election Commission Chair Resigns

Tamar Zhvania, Chair of Central Election Commission (CEC) has announced the decision to resign, starting from July 1, citing “new realities” of the April 19 EU-brokered deal.

She said her move will allow the political parties to elect the new chair under the recently amended election code, as part of a wider political compromise.

Under the election legislation, now President Salome Zurabishvili has two days to announce a competition for a new candidate. The nominee must then be appointed by 2/3 of votes in the Parliament to serve a five-year term.

An anti-deadlock mechanism for electing the CEC chair says the first two voting attempts require the 2/3 majority, the third attempt requires 3/5 and subsequent attempts need only a simple majority. If elected this way, however, the Chairperson will only serve a temporary six-month term.

Zhvania was appointed as the CEC Chair in 2013 and then re-elected for a five-year term in 2018. Her resignation was one of the key demands of the opposition parties, which claimed the hotly-contested October 31, 2020, parliamentary elections had been “rigged.”

Watchdogs say Zhvania’s move could increase public confidence

Four key election watchdogs stated Zhvania’s decision to resign could “significantly” contribute to increasing public confidence in the election processes and administration during the 2021 local polls.

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Transparency International Georgia and Open Society Georgia Foundation stressed in their joint statement the new candidate for the post must be highly qualified, non-biased and elected with consensus among the political parties.

The signatories noted the selection process must be open and transparent as the “legitimacy” of the upcoming elections “will depend” on public confidence in the election commissions.

This article was updated. A subsequent statement by election watchdogs was added.

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