Georgian Parliament Endorses Changes to the Electoral Code
Georgian lawmakers endorsed changes to the Election Code in a third and final round of voting on July 2 aimed to comply with the legislation with the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations. The way for these changes was cleared three days earlier on June 29, when Georgian Parliament approved constitutional amendments on election reforms.
Changes to the Election code were endorsed with 94 votes in favour, and one against after Opposition European Georgia and United National Movement parties remained on the boycott. They did not participate in the voting as their demand to release „political prisoner“ Giorgi Rurua had not been met.
Under the freshly approved amendments, the 2020 parliamentary elections will be held based on what is referred to as the 120/30 system, which means that 120 MPs will be elected through proportional party lists and 30 using the majoritarian voting system. Also, the election threshold will be fixed at 1 % of votes, while a constraint barring any single party that receives less than 40 % of votes from claiming a majority of seats in the Parliament will be enacted as well. The amendments also introduce the so-called 25% gender quotas, meaning that in their proportional party-list, the political parties are obliged to include at least every fourth person of a different gender. Also, starting from 2024, Georgia will move to a fully proportional system.
Shortly after the adoption of amendments on June 29 Georgian opposition parties released a joint statement in which they appealed to the Government for the release of the shareholder of pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV Giorgi Rurua to „complete fulfilment“ of the March 8 agreement.
As Radio Free Europe – Radio Liberty recalled in its article, under the current electoral system, 73 of 150 parliamentary seats are claimed by candidates who won in majoritarian race, while remaining seats are distributed proportionally. This system led to Georgian Dream, led by billionaire founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, holding three-quarters of the legislature’s seats even though it won just under half of the popular vote.