Ruling party ready to meet opposition parties separately on election issue

The United National Movement says that the ruling party is trying to split opposition. Photo: Georgian Dream press office., 19 Feb 2020 - 15:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

 The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party has expressed readiness to meet with separate opposition parties as well as the united opposition to reach a deal with them on how to hold the 2020 parliamentary elections. 

The United National Movement opposition says that it is an attempt to ‘divide and conquer,’ stating that the ruling party will not achieve its goal “to split the opposition’s unity’ around the election topic. 

Members of the Girchi party have already met with ruling party officials to discuss controversies around the upcoming elections, which arose after parliament rejected the ruling party proposed election bill in November 2019 regarding the early transition to a fully proportional electoral system [from 2020 instead of scheduled 2024]. 

Head of the Girchi party Zurab Japaridze has stated that he 'sees no problem’ in meeting with ruling party officials on the issue.

However, leader of the United National Movement opposition Roman Gotsiridze says that the ruling party, ‘which deliberately rejected the bill last year’, is trying to stretch time and hold the 2020 elections with the current, mixed electoral system [in which 77 MPs are elected based on party lists and remaining 73 via the majoritarian elections]. 

Roman Gotsiridze from the UNM says that the opposition parties will keep unity on the election issue. Photo: parliament of Georgia press office. 

The ruling party is not interested in the dialogue. It is just stretching time to say in the end that all resources for reaching consensus have been used,” Gotsiridze says, adding that ‘no serious opposition party’ will sit separately with the ruling party for negotiations. 

EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell, who is one of the mediators of talks between the opposition and the ruling party on 2020 elections, says that an agreement, ‘which will deescalate tension,’ should be found soon as time is running out.

In June 2020, during protests in Tbilisi, the ruling party promised early transition to a fully proportional system and proposed a bill. 

However, in November 2019 many of the ruling party majoritarian MPs refused to vote for the bill and it was rejected. 

The opposition, which says that the majoritarian elections are unfair and benefiting ruling parties, has accused the GD of ‘deliberately rejecting the bill’ and took to the streets. 

Parliamentary elections will take place in Georgia in the current year. Photo: Nino Alavidze/ 

The ruling party officials said they were also ‘disappointed’ with the rejection and failed to persuade majoritarian MPs to vote for the bill. 

The opposition and the ruling party have held four meetings, mediated by diplomatic corps, to reach a deal on the 2020 elections. 

The ruling party offers a 100/50 electoral system for 2020 - 100 proportional and 50 majoritarian seats in parliament - which is unacceptable for the opposition.  

The opposition suspended the election-related dialogue with the ruling party after the detention of opposition leader Gigi Ugulava earlier this month.