Ruling Party’s Electoral System Offer Is Unacceptable and Unserious
Statement of EPDE member ISFED and 15 other Georgian civil society organizations assessing the ruling party’s initiative:
On December 20, during the fourth meeting between the ruling and the opposition parties on the electoral system, the Chairperson of the Parliament unveiled the ruling party’s offer about changing the electoral system in a way that out of the 150 parliamentary seats 50 will be distributed under a majoritarian system and 100 under a proportional system.
The Georgian Dream calls this an “optimal compromise decision” following failure of its initiative to transition to a fully proportional representation for 2020. In reality, with today’s offer the ruling party went a step further and confirmed its desire to cancel the transition to a fully proportional system even for the 2024 elections. Instead of offering a compromise and improving the electoral system, this initiative further worsens the existing regulations with regards to a fully proportional model by 2024, around which a political consensus has existed in the country for a long time. Therefore the initiative unveiled today by the Georgian Dream is completely unacceptable and unserious.
Notably, the initiative runs against the current Constitution and it will require constitutional amendments. Recently the Georgian Dream turned down the opposition’s offer of the so-called modified German Model citing its alleged incompliance with the Constitution and unfeasibility of constitutional amendments. If the Georgian Dream has the capacity to make amendments to the Constitution, this capacity should be used for transitioning to a proportional election system or for making amendments that, in view of the Georgian Dream, will bring the model developed by opposition parties in compliance with the Constitution.
In reality, the December 20 initiative of the ruling party clearly indicates that the Georgian Dream is only concerned with adoption of an electoral system that matches its narrow party interests and ensures that the party remains in power for as long as possible. In light of this, it becomes clearer that the failure to fulfill the promise of a proportional system was a political decision of the entire Georgian Dream and not a “rebellion” of majoritarian MPs as it was portrayed.
We reiterate that the full responsibility of the current crisis in the country lies with the ruling party and its chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili. Georgian Dream voting down the move to a proportional system on November 14 not only created an unstable political environment in the country but also significantly damaged its reputation in the eyes of its international partners.
Nevertheless, the Georgian Dream has not shown any political will to improve the situation and diffuse the crisis. To date, none of the meetings with opposition parties have been successful, as the ruling party has refused to accept any of their proposals about the election system.
While various public opinion polls demonstrate that absolute majority of the Georgian population supports proportional electoral system, today’s proposal and the rhetoric of the Chairperson of the Parliament about crisis risks in proportional election models in Europe and Israel amounts to mockery of the society and disregarding the interest of Georgia’s democratic development.
Regrettably, the Georgian Dream has failed to understand its responsibility before the people and their future. Its decisions about electoral system are motivated by the sole interest of maintaining power. Electoral system model discussed in the process of the dialogue between the ruling and the opposition parties should reflect interests of the broader society, as opposed to interests of individual political parties, and it should substantially improve the electoral environment.
We urge the ruling party to recognize its own responsibility to fulfill its promise of transitioning to a proportional system in line with the public demand and in accordance with clear messages from Georgia’s international partners.
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Open Society Georgia Foundation
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Transparency International – Georgia
Atlantic Council of Georgia
Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC)
Society and Banks
Georgian Reforms Associates (GRASS)
Media Development Foundation (MDF)
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
Institute of Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)
Liberal Academy Tbilisi
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)