At a meeting today of the committee on Legal Issues of the Parliament of Georgia, Chairman of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze blamed opposition parties for the majoritarian electoral system not being abolished until 2024.
The meeting was to discuss the issues that need to be passed at the upcoming third hearing in parliament of the package of constitutional amendments.
Kobakhidze said the ruling Georgian Dream party had suggested to implement a proportional system by 2020, but that opposition parties “took it down a blind alley” because of their inconsistent approach.
“We’ve stated at the [Constitutional] commission that it was the decision of the leadership of the party to form such [proportional] a system... I’m sure this process would be successful if the opposition didn’t have an inconsistent approach.
In the beginning we had it written that the proportion system should be implemented in 2020. During these conditions, the opposition left the constitutional commission.
The Venice Commission conclusion stated that the constitutional commission was a key to consensus. In reality it wasn’t so. The opposition left the constitutional commission when we had 2020 written as the year of introduction of the proportional system,” Kobakhidze told the committee.
The recent Draft Opinion paper issued by Venice Commission on September 22 touches upon the parliamentary electoral system in Georgia, and states that it is very unfortunate that Georgia is not switching to the proportional system before 2024.
“It is undoubtedly regretful, as it is one of the most important parts of the reform,” reads the statement issued by Venice Commission.
The Venice Commission also stated that the suggestions sent by the parliamentary majority on September 20, 2017 suggest that the parties will have the rights to create blocs and that there will be a 3% threshold by 2020, which “aim to alleviate the negative effects of the postponement of the entry into force of the proportional election system to 2024.”
At a special briefing on September 22, Kobakhidze commented on the Venice Commission’s draft opinion, that: “The Venice Commission has no remarks regarding the principal issues, such are the Presidential election, Presidential status and authorities. We shall underline that all these issues, annulment of the Security Council, regulation of defense issues, the Chapter regulating the Government etc., no remarks have been issued regarding these issues by the Venice Commission.”
Georgia currently 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. 77 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 the vote in order to win seats in the parliament.