Opposition announces re-blocking of parliament building, protests

The opposition says that parliament building will be blocked in early February. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

Agenda.ge, 20 Jan 2020 - 17:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

The parliamentary opposition has announced that demonstrators will block the parliament building in central Tbilisi in February and the opposition will organise  ‘intense protests’ against the current state leadership around the issue of 2020 parliamentary elections.

Let’s see how Ivanishvili [founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili] and the current state leadership will resist the protests,” leader of the European Georgia opposition party Giga Bokeria stated earlier today.  

United National Movement opposition party MP Roman Gotsiridze says that blocking the parliament building will take place starting February 4. 

The protests will destroy the ruling Georgian Dream party. The ruling party is not eager to hold fair elections in 2020. The only thing which will make them do so is the power of the people and the power will be used. We will show them the power of people,” Gotsiridze said. 

Vice Parliament Speaker from the ruling party Giorgi Kakhiani says that the ruling party has made a “ very rational offer” to the opposition [at the end of 2019] of how the 2020 parliamentary elections might be held, and initiated the ‘increase of the MPs elected by party-list system to 100 [from 77 in the 150-member parliament]. 

Opposition leader Bokeria vows that the opposition will end the 'current crisis." Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

I believe that a consensus with the opposition will be reached,” Kakhiani said. 

Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze says that if the ruling party and the opposition fail to agree on an election model for the 2020 race the upcoming elections will be held with the use of the current model with 73 MPs elected in single-mandate constituencies [majoritarian elections] and the remaining 77 based on a proportional, party-list system.

EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell, who is one of the mediators of talks between the ruling party and the opposition on the 2020 elections, says that the dialogue between parties will continue.

We welcome the continuation of the dialogue. We are trying to identify the [election] issues on which the ruling party and the opposition will manage to agree,” Hartzell said. 

Acting US Ambassador to Georgia Elisabeth Rood says that the dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition in the 2020 race, which is mediated by the diplomatic corps, is an “important opportunity” for Georgian political forces to reach an agreement and choose the “best model” for the 2020 elections. 

EU ambassador to Georgia says that the dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition on elections issues continue.  Photo: EU in Georgia press office. 

Why did the protest spark? 

  • Protests in Tbilisi were sparked  after the Georgian parliament rejected the ruling party proposed election bill on November 14, 2019  on the early transition to a fully proportional electoral system starting from 2020 instead of scheduled 2024.
  • The ruling party gave the promise to ensure the early transition to calm protests in Tbilisi in June 2019 which were triggered by the presence of Russian MPs in the Georgian parliament. 
  • The opposition is accusing the government of “deliberately rejecting” the bill and is demanding the 2020 elections be held per the “adapted German model,” which distributes seats in parliament based on votes received in proportional voting.
  • In December 2019 the ruling party made a new offer to the opposition, stating that they are ready for 100 spots in parliament to be elected via the proportional electoral system and the remaining 50 per the majoritarian system in the 2020 parliamentary elections. 
  • Opposition parties responded that the offer is ‘absolutely unacceptable and is another attempt to trick the people.” 
  • The diplomatic corps have already mediated four meetings between the ruling party and the opposition to help them reach an agreement on the model for 2020 parliamentary elections. 
  • The date of the fifth meeting has not been announced so far.