Constitution of Georgia

New Constitution will Abolish Direct Presidential Elections in Georgia

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საქართველოს 1921 წლი კონსტიტუცია Photo: wikipedia.org

The project for creating a new constitution has already been published. The main issues that are to be changed in Georgian constitution concern the President and Parliamentary election systems. The new constitution also has several additions in the social context and a new chapter on Euro-Integration.

The document which was prepared by the constitutional commission will be voted on April 22nd.

The released document suggests to abolish the direct Presidential Elections and adopt the system similar to the US electoral college. According to the document this electoral college will involve 300 electors. The document does not specify the year from which this system should be adopted.

President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili commented on the constitutional suggestions. According to Margvelashvili the most frightening is that the country will not have a commander-in-chief.

“We now see the new version of our future constitution and I want to touch upon several points: 1. Unfortunately, people’s clear willingness to elect their own president has been neglected. With the new version, 300 electors will choose the President and not the citizens. 2. This elected President basically doesn’t have even small bits of same rights as what President had in 2013. The most frightening is that the country won’t have commander-in-chief.”, stated Margvelashvili.

The President of Georgia also noted that the abolishment of the majoritarian system is a step forward, however the addition about that in the constitution is a bit unclear. The President meant the line which suggests that “winning party, even if it passes the runner-up by 1% will get all the mandates that are left.”

Georgia has a mixed electoral system. At the polling station, citizens cast one vote for a majoritarian candidate running in their district, and a second vote for a national party list. Seventy-seven seats in the parliament are distributed amongst the parties according to the proportion of list votes they receive. Parties must pass a minimum threshold of 5% of the vote in order to win seats in the parliament.

With the current 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. Seventy-three out of the 150 seats of the parliament are filled in this way.

The Georgian Dream have delayed plans to abolish the single mandate system till 2020, despite strong criticism of the system by the president, opposition parties, local and international organisations which have said that the system does not ensure a proportional distribution of votes.

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