The Chairman of Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze, has stated that a proportional electoral system should be adopted in Georgia, as it “strengthens the position of the opposition.” He did not reveal any details regarding when the changes would take place. A constitutional commission began discussing changing Georgia’s electoral system on January 28.
Georgia has a mixed electoral system. On voting day, citizens cast one vote for a majoritarian candidate running in their district, and a second vote for a national party list. 77 out of 150 seats in parliament are distributed amongst the parties according to the proportion of list votes they receive. Parties must pass a minimum threshold of 5% of votes in order to win seats in the parliament.
73 out of the 150 seats in parliament are filled via the majoritarian system. If none of the candidates for single mandate seats manage to pass the 50% threshold, then a runoff vote is held between the two candidates who won the most votes.
“We want to have a strong parliament, and what ensures parliament’s strength is the electoral system,” parliamentary chairman Irakli Kobakhidze said to journalists. “The current electoral system gives a sort of advantage to the winning party, and it puts the opposition in a weaker position… Eventually, Georgia should have the kind of electoral system which would strengthen the position of the opposition. The main instrument to do that is to transfer to the proportional system.”
The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) supports changing the electoral system to an entirely proportional one, and has suggested to have 75 mandates assigned proportionally, and the other 75 regional-proportionally, according to ISFED’s executive director.
Several opposition parties and members of the parliamentary minority also support the regional-proportional system, as does President Giorgi Margvelashvili.
The Georgian Dream has delayed plans to abolish the single mandate system until 2020, despite strong criticism of the electoral system from the president, opposition parties, as well as local and international organisations, who say that the system does not ensure a proportional distribution of votes.