The local self-government elections in Georgia will take place on 21 October 2017. The Georgian EPDE member ISFED has recently published a report assesing the pre-election environment. According to the report, constitutional changes were the major issue of civil society and political discussions ahead of the elections. The process of constitutional reform initiated in the mostly inclusive format of the State Constitutional Commission reached a sort of a stalemate in late June, after the ruling party made an unexpected decision to postpone changes in the electoral system until 2024.
Also unexpectedly and without involvement of the general public, the Parliament of Georgia voted for merging 14 municipalities and abolishing the self-governing status for 7 cities just a few months before the election. The decision essentially limits the right to self-government for the cities and the villages within the self-governing communities.
As a result of changes in the Election Code, a number of positive new regulations were introduced; however, changes in rules that regulate composition of electoral commissions have been criticized. According to these new regulations, the number of the ruling party representatives in the electoral administration will significantly increase following the 2017 elections. To the disappointment of NGOs and political parties, no substantial changes were made in the electoral system of the self-government bodies.
Please see the full report here.