The Parliament of Georgia elected today Giorgi Kalandarishvili as the new chairperson of the Central Election Commission, receiving 83 votes in favor and 3 against, as the majority of opposition lawmakers did not attend the session. His opponent, Giorgi Santuriani garnered only four votes.
Kalandarishvili will serve for a six-month term as the Georgian Dream lawmakers elected him with a simple majority after Parliament’s three unsuccessful attempts to choose the new chair. The distrusting opposition lawmakers, whose votes were required for the supermajority, were unwilling to back any of the two candidates.
New changes, as per the EU-mediated April 19 agreement between the GD and opposition parties, require a candidate to get 2/3 supermajority endorsement in first two votings, or 3/5 support afterwards in the 150-member legislature be elected for a 5-year term.
The Parliament also elected two members of the Central Election Commission. Gia Tsatsashvili and Maia Zaridze received 81 votes each. Tsatsashvili’s opponent Lela Taliuri, with a CSO background, received only 8 votes. Zaridze’s opponent Tamar Sartania, also with a vast CSO experience, similarly gained 8 votes.
Earlier on July 27, the Transparency International Georgia, local CSO accused the Georgian Dream leadership of unwillingness to elect new chair and members based on a wider political consensus, citing the parliament’s reduction of the 4-week interval between votes to a one-week period, in contravention of EU-brokered April 19 agreement. Noteworthy, the Georgian Dream quit the April 19 deal on July 28.
Kalandarishvili’s predecessor, Tamar Zhvania resigned on July 1, to allow the parties elect a new candidate as part of a “wider political compromise.” Opposition has long demanded Zhvania’s resignation, accusing her of rigging October 31, 2020 parliamentary elections. Claims were denied by both Zhvania and the GD government.
In the meantime, the two membership seats became available after new rules increased the number of “professional” CEC members from six to eight.
- Parliament Fails to Elect CEC Chair, Members for the Third Time
- Parliament Again Fails to Elect CEC Chair, Members
- CEC Chairpersonship, Membership Candidates Selected
- Central Election Commission Chair Resigns