Several opposition MPs and the Georgian Dream lawmakers met today behind closed doors to exchange their positions on constitutional amendments to the electoral system, envisaged by the EU-mediated April 19 deal.
The meeting comes after remarks by the ruling party chair, MP Irakli Kobakhidze hinted at backtracking on the proposed changes, that would mandate holding any next two parliamentary elections, including snap polls, fully proportionally with a lowered 2% threshold, instead of the current 5%.
After the meeting, MP Irakli Kobakhidze said that everything with regards to constitutional changes remained “open,” and their fate – how the discussions on changes will continue and to what end – would depend “on a lot of things.”
“Above all, of course, it will depend on the opposition’s actions,” MP Kobakhidze maintained.
Yet, the ruling party chair seemed firm when discussing snap parliamentary elections, overruling any such possibility.
Opposition MP Giorgi Vashadze of the Strategy Aghmashenebeli party said after the talks they wanted to learn “what the Georgian Dream wants.” He said GD is not against the fully proportional system with the 2% threshold, at least for now, and seems willing to keep it for the scheduled 2024 and 2028 parliamentary elections.
Before 2024, however, Vashadze noted, the ruling party wants to keep the current electoral arrangements, that is one percent entry threshold and a mixed electoral system with 30 MPs still elected as majoritarians.
Media footage suggests that besides Kobakhidze and Vashadze, the discussion was attended by GD MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, MP Badri Japaridze of the opposition Lelo party, who Mdnaradze said had initiated the meeting, as well as MP Tina Bokuchava of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party.
- GD Hints Backtracking on EU-brokered Constitutional Amendments
- Kobakhidze Says GD ‘Not Obliged’ to Make Constitutional Amendments
The current bill on electoral system changes, cleared with the first parliamentary hearing on September 7, needs two more hearings to be approved, as well as support from both the GD and at least part of the opposition MPs. Earlier comments by GD chair Kobakhidze suggested that the ruling party mulls to backtrack from the amendments.
On November 30, MP Kobakhidze suggested that adopting the changes – which would require 113 MPs in the 150-member legislature — is in the hands of the GD, which has 84 lawmakers, and dubbed the amendments ruling party’s potential “small gift” to the opposition.
Earlier he also suggested that keeping the 5% threshold “could be better for democratic development,” albeit pledged to continue relevant discussions.
The Georgian Dream quit the EU-brokered deal in July. GD leadership then pledged however to remain committed to reforms envisaged in the accord. Despite stated commitments, GD backtracked in September on another proposed change – introducing the 3/5 vote for electing the chief prosecutor, sparking criticism from the EU and U.S.
Currently, the ruling party lawmakers are fast-tracking changes to Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, amending the EU-brokered anti-deadlock mechanism for appointing Central Election Commission chairperson and members.