Opposition, civic activists resume protests in Tbilisi

No streets have been blocked for now in Tbilisi by demonstrators.Photo: IPN. 

Agenda.ge, 05 Feb 2020 - 12:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

The opposition and civic activists have resumed protests at Georgian parliament earlier today, creating a ‘corridor of shame’ for ruling party MPs and demanding an early transition to a proportional electoral system in time for the parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year.

The opposition originally announced the renewal of protests on February 4 for the opening of the spring session in parliament. However, they postponed the rally due to a tragedy in western Georgia on February 3, when six individuals, including four minors, died in a fire. 

Leader of the European Georgia opposition party Gigi Ugulava stated earlier today that the opposition and civic activists will hold rallies everyday to ‘create maximum discomfort’ for the ruling party, to ‘make them keep their promise’ of transitioning to a fully proportional election system from 2020 instead of the scheduled 2024. 

The opposition has vowed to create discomfort for the ruling Georgian Dream party. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

Why did the protests begin?

Protests were sparked in Tbilisi in November 2019 after parliament rejected the ruling party proposed election bill on an early transition to a fully proportional electoral system starting from 2020 instead of speculated 2024.

The early transition was the promise given by the ruling party to the demonstrators in Tbilisi in June 2019, during the rallies which were triggered by the presence of Russian MPs in the Georgian parliament.

The opposition accuses the ruling party of deliberately rejecting the bill and is demanding the 2020 elections to be held per the “adapted German model,” which distributes seats in parliament based on votes received in proportional voting. 

Ruling party officials have dismissed the accusations, stating that they were unable to convince the party’s majoritarian MPs to vote for the bill.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled in Georgia this year. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

In December 2019 the ruling party offered a 100/50 model to the opposition for 2020 elections, which distributes 100 seats proportionally and 50 seats based on majoritarian race in the 150-member parliament.

The opposition says that the model is ‘unacceptable.’

The ruling party and the opposition have already held four meetings mediated by diplomatic corps to reach a consensus for the upcoming elections.

The date of the fifth meeting has not yet been announced.

  • Currently Georgia has a mixed electoral system, with 73 MPs elected in single-mandate constituencies [majoritarian elections] and remaining 77 based on proportional, party-list system.
  • The ruling party says that if no agreement is reached with the opposition on 2020 elections, the elections will be held per the current, mixed system, while the country will move to a fully-proportional electoral model starting from 2024, as the current Constitution reads.