President Vetoes Amendments to CEC Staffing Rules

On March 5, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili vetoed amendments to the Electoral Code passed by the Parliament on February 20, the President’s Administration confirmed to The amendments, if passed, will change the procedure for electing the chair and non-partisan members (“professional members”) of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and abolish the post of Deputy Chair of the CEC, intended for the representative of the opposition.

In the reasoned objections sent to the Parliament, Zurabishvili proposes to reinstate the old law and return to the President the power to form the Selection Commission and to present the candidates to be elected as the chairman and “professional members” of the CEC.

The objections provided by the president are in line with the recommendations by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, published in December 2023.

As a compromise, the President suggests that after the candidates are presented to the Parliament, the MPs should have a chance to elect the Chairperson/Member of the CEC according to the amended law, with a 3/5 majority (90 votes), and in case of failure, with a simple majority (76 votes), but the person elected with a lower quorum should serve for 6 months instead of the full 5-year term.

President Zurabishvili also believes that to ensure a high level of confidence in the CEC, it is important for the opposition parties to appoint the Deputy Chairperson. However, she suggested that in situations where the Chair is unable to perform his/her duties, the second Deputy Chair – elected by the Parliament – should be given priority to serve as Acting Chairperson.

Under the previous version of the law, the Deputy Chair elected by the opposition was the first choice in similar emergencies. This has led to accusations by the ruling party that the opposition is plotting to “get rid of” the chairman in order to “take control” of the CEC before the elections.

President Zurabishvili proposes to announce the competition for the position of Chair/Member of the CEC before May 1, 2024.

According to the new law, the Speaker of the Parliament, instead of the President, nominates and announces the competition for the election of the Chair and the professional members of the CEC. The Parliament then needs to vote with 3/5 (90 votes) in the first voting to elect a candidate for the chairmanship/membership of the CEC. If this fails, Parliament may try again with a simple majority (76 votes), with only two attempts allowed before the authority to appoint the CEC chairperson/member passes to the President. Notably, the CEC chairperson/member serve a full 5-year term even if elected with a lower quorum.

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


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