Parliament Passes Amendments to CEC Staffing Rules

On February 20, the Parliament of Georgia passed by 81 votes in the third hearing amendments to the electoral code, changing the procedure for electing the Chairman and so-called professional members of the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC). The amendments also abolish the post of the Deputy Chairman of the CEC, which is intended for the representative of the opposition.

According to the new law, the Speaker of the Parliament, instead of the President, nominates and announces the competition for the election of the Chairman and the so-called professional members of the CEC. The Parliament then needs 3/5 support (90 votes) in the first ballot to elect a candidate for the chairmanship/membership of the CEC. If this fails, Parliament may try again with a simple majority (76 votes) on the next ballot, with two attempts allowed. After two unsuccessful attempts, the authority to appoint the CEC chairperson/member shall pass to the President.

Notably, under the draft law, the CEC chairman/member serve a full 5-year term even if elected with a lower quorum.

The CEC is composed of 17 members, including the CEC Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary. 7 of the members are nominated by the Speaker of the Parliament and appointed by the Parliament, while 9 are nominated by the opposition parties.

The opposition and civil society organizations point out that these changes only increase the political pressure on the CEC and undermine the neutral nature of the institution. They also point out that these changes don’t comply with the nine conditions of the European Commission and that the ruling party is neglect the recommendations of the Venice Commission, which clearly advised against the adoption of these changes.

Meanwhile, the representatives of the GD dismiss the concerns stating that the Deputy Chairman of the CEC, who used to be elected by the opposition had the same power as the other opposition members of the CEC, with only one advantage: he/she could act as the Acting Chairman of the CEC in case the Chairman was unable to fulfill his/her duties and responsibilities.

Mamuka Mdinaradze, the parliamentary majority leader, said: “They [the opposition] have thought of a situation in which they probably know that the [CEC] Chairman will not be there and his/her duty will be performed by their fellow party member. Maybe they’re going to do something to the person who is the Chairman”. He added that the opposition has a history of “killing in the streets,” claiming that there is a possibility of a similar scenario in the future.

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


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