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Venice Commission Opinion on Abolishing Quotas on Women MPs

On June 25, the Venice Commission released an opinion “On Amendments to the Election Code Which Abolish Gender Quotas”, stressing the need for mechanisms in Georgia to ensure gender equality in the political sphere and emphasizing that such amendments in the Election Code less than a year before the elections “gives rise to serious concerns regarding stability of electoral law.”

The Venice Commission emphasizes that ensuring gender equality is recognized by international organizations as a positive obligation of the state. It notes that the introduction of gender quotas for women in 2020, confirmed as constitutional by the Constitutional Court of Georgia, was in line with previous recommendations of the Venice Commission. The Commission says they now have been abolished without being replaced by other measures aimed at facilitating the election of women candidates.

“While each country can decide how to improve gender equality in democratic institutions, including the Parliament, it has been demonstrated that gender quotas can influence women’s parliamentary representation, and they are not contrary to the principle of equal suffrage if they have a constitutional basis, as in Georgia. The Venice Commission thus recommends taking special temporary measures to improve women’s representation in Parliament and in local councils (Sakrebulos), such as the re-introduction of gender quotas or other recognised methods for facilitating the election of women candidates, so that current percentages of women who are elected are increased substantially,” – states the Venice Commission.

The Venice Commission also underlines the importance of broad consensus and dialogue among all parties on electoral reforms in order to ensure confidence in the process and strengthen democracy in Georgia. The Opinion notes that the recent amendments to the Electoral Code and the Law on Political Associations were adopted quickly, without public consultation and ignoring the concerns of various stakeholders.

The Commission sees no urgent need to abolish gender quotas and criticizes the frequent amendments to Georgia’s electoral legislation, which may undermine the integrity of the electoral process and confuse participants. It calls for comprehensive, inclusive reforms to address outstanding recommendations and ensure stability in the electoral framework.

“Moreover, the amendments relating to political parties’ candidate lists are relevant for the outcome of elections, and their adoption much less than one year before the next parliamentary elections – scheduled for October 2024 – gives rise to serious concerns regarding stability of electoral law,” – notes the Venice Commission.

The Commission notes that the recent changes in Georgia abolished these quotas without public consultation, citing party autonomy and meritocracy. However, this move contradicts international standards and Georgia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Venice Commission highlights the need for special measures to ensure gender equality, noting the success of quotas in increasing women’s political participation. They recommend the reintroduction of gender quotas or other methods to significantly improve women’s representation in Georgia’s parliament and local councils.

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


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