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Ruling Party Clings to Majoritarian System Elements Ahead of Elections

Ruling party lawmakers have announced changes to Georgia’s electoral code that Georgian Dream claims will improve the efficiency of the country’s electoral system and make elected officials more responsive to local constituencies. However, the proposed amendments have triggered concerns among their critics that the ruling party is clinging to the ousted majoritarian system and are seen as yet another tactical ploy by the GD to tweak the system to its advantage.

What Are Draft Amendments?

On March 20, three GD MPs from the party list: Givi Mikanadze, Rati Ionatamishvili and Davit Matikashvili – introduced amendments to the Electoral Code of Georgia. The draft amendments consist of two parts:

Firstly, a new Par. 61 will be added to the Article 115 of the Electoral Code of Georgia, according to which, “a [political] party, when forming the party list, is allowed to designate its MP candidate as a delegate for the voters registered in an electoral district…”

The candidate MP can only be nominated as a delegate from one constituency, according to the draft amendment. In the party list, the name of the candidate MP will be accompanied by a specific number representing the constituency in which that candidate MP is nominated as a delegate.

Secondly, the Par. 1 of the Article 149 is proposed to be changed in the following way: “The candidate who receives the highest number of real votes of the voters who participated in the elections within the respective majoritarian electoral district, according to the majoritarian electoral system, shall be considered elected as a member of the City Council…” [According to the current law, the candidates must receive more than 40 percent of the votes to win. If not, they participate in the second rounds of elections].

In the event that two or more candidates receive the same highest number of real votes, the candidate who was the first to complete the election registration process will be the winner.


Under Georgia’s current electoral system, 30 out of 150 MPs are majoritarians, meaning they were elected through the majoritarian election system. However, in the upcoming October parliamentary elections, for the first time in the country’s history, all 150 members of the legislature will be elected through a fully proportional system. Amendments to the country’s main law for this change were passed in 2020.

The majoritarian MPs have traditionally been viewed as local feudals who were always the backbone of the ruling party in the regions, with the de-facto power to control the local budget and to help the ruling party maintain power.

A new term has been introduced in the draft amendments to the Electoral Code, that of a “delegate”, a future MP who will be officially elected from the party list by the party itself and not by the people, but who will be assigned the very similar functions as the majoritarian MP.

The explanatory note to the draft amendments says that in the next convocation of Parliament, “the representative established with the regional principle,” referring to the majoritarian MPs, will no longer exist. Therefore, according to the note, the political parties should be allowed to designate the delegates in order to have “immediate and adequate competence to respond to the needs of the [local] populations.” This is despite frequent criticism in the past that majority MPs tend to forget their local constituencies once elected.

“People need to know who their delegates will be, and to whom they should turn to resolve specific issues, and not to the [general] 150 deputies,” says Bezhan Tsakadze, a ruling GD majoritarian MP. Based on his statement, the parties will be allowed to designate their majoritarian-style “delegates” before and not after the elections, thus indirectly hinting to the people who their representative, yet officially from the party list, might be in Parliament. Although the essence of the system is clearly majoritarian, Tsakadze is adamant that the elections will be fully proportional.

Leader of the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority, Mamuka Mdinaradze, also welcomed the initiative. He noted that parties will not be obliged to designate their candidate MPs as delegates. “They may choose not to designate [as delegates] and argue that it is a proportional election,” he said, emphasizing that the initiative advocates for freedom of choice.

Meanwhile, opposition representatives see the idea of delegates as another deceptive tactic by the ruling party to maintain elements of majoritarianism. “They [GD] are lying to the citizens, because since the majoritarian system was abolished, they now have the local feudals to put on the list, as if these people will have any special powers in relation to other members of Parliament,” said Beka Liluashvili, a member of the For Georgia political party of ex-Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia.

Paata Manjgaladze of the Strategy Aghmashenebeli party also denounced the initiative. “Thank God that the majoritarian system has been abolished, Georgian Dream will not have moneybags, but it is trying to give a function to those moneybags who stole the money, a record about the delegate is nothing more than that,” he said.

Another opposition MP, Khatia Dekanoidze of the parliamentary faction Reforms Group, noted that the majoritarians have power in their regions, “but in those regions where there were majoritarians, nothing special has been done.”

CITY COUNCILS: Abolition of Thresholds

Concurrently, the draft amendments to the Electoral Code also provide for the abolition of the existing 40 percent threshold in local elections for majoritarian candidates for municipal councils [Sakrebulos]. The 40 percent threshold was set in 2021. If the majoritarian candidates in the local elections do not receive at least 40 percent of the votes, second rounds will be held.

The explanatory note to the draft amendments emphasizes that holding second rounds of local elections “delays the speedy completion of a council as a representative body and thus its immediate effective functioning”. Therefore, it is proposed that the candidate with the highest number of votes be declared the winner immediately. In this case, the second rounds of elections will not be held and “the Sakrebulos [City Councils] will be given the opportunity to exercise their authority in a timely and effective manner as determined by the legislature.”

Davit Matikashvili of the GD said that “there is no need for the rule, which has not been tested in any of the leading EU member countries”. He added: “The opposition may not like democracy, but democracy means that the winner is the one who gets more votes.”

Meanwhile, Mamuka Mdinaradze, a leader of the GD parliamentary majority, said that the party agreed with the general principle of the amendments, although it did not rule out possible future changes to them.


Transparency International- Georgia, a local watchdog, said the abolition of the 40 percent threshold is another step backward for the country. In its statement, it noted that the change “increases the risk of losing votes and misses the opportunity for supporters of opposition parties to support the united opposition candidate in the second round.”

In addition, the watchdog stresses that without a 40 percent or any threshold, the majoritarian of a city council can become a person for whom more people voted against than for. “There is a growing danger that the will of the voters will not be adequately reflected in the mandates.”

According to TI, “the Government is more and more often trying to worsen the electoral legislation and adjust it to itself.”

Meanwhile, opposition politicians believe that GD’s intention to remove the 40 percent threshold is related to the ruling party’s fear of losing in the municipalities. “[Georgian Dream] is afraid of losing and is trying to calm down the internal party turbulence with such changes,” said Beka Liluashvili of For Georgia.

Some also suggest that support for the ruling party has decreased especially in large cities. “Georgian Dream knows very well that support for them has decreased significantly, especially in the big cities, and this is the reason for the changes with which it is once again trying to prepare for the local elections and somehow change the system in such a way as to eliminate this serious flaw.”,” said Beka Buadze of the Lelo for Georgia party.

“[The abolition] of this 40 percent threshold means that Georgian Dream is afraid of a single [opposition] candidate in the second round of local elections,” noted Khatia Dekanoidze of the parliamentary Reforms Group faction.

“It is clear to everyone that “Georgian Dream” adopts the laws that they need in a concrete period of time, all legislative changes serve to adjust them to themselves and the desire to remain in power for a long time,” said Giorgi Kirtadze of Ahali.

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