Opposition vows support for ruling party election bill to ‘avoid threats’ to 2020 proportional vote

The parliamentary opposition says that the ruling party may reject its own bill on moving to the fully proportional elections from 2020.Photo: Parliament press office.

Agenda.ge, 12 Nov 2019 - 18:45, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian parliamentary minority has vowed to support the Georgian Dream ruling party bill on moving to fully proportional elections from 2020 as they fear that the ruling party may reject its own bill and retain the mixed-electoral system for next year's parliamentary elections.

The ruling party accepted the conduct of 2020 parliamentary elections on a fully proportional system amid the June public protests, also offering a zero election threshold.

The opposition has welcomed the move to the fully proportional voting system, but said that the zero per cent threshold would divide the opposition and increase the chances of the ruling party winning the race.

The decision of the United National Movement and the European Georgia opposition parties to support the ruling party bill “anyway” comes after the statement of several MPs of the Georgian Dream that they will not support the bill offered by their own party.

We will not give reason to the ruling party to create threats to fully proportional elections for 2020,” leader of United National Movement opposition party Roman Gotsiridze said.

The opposition has demanded the rejection of majoritarian elections as it "benefited ruling parties." Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

Independent MPs also say that they will support the ruling party’s proposed bill.

Ruling party MPs have stated that the approval of the bill will need the opposition support as passing the bill needs at least 113 votes in the 150-member parliament, while the ruling party has less than 100 MPs.

Two bills have been proposed in parliament regarding elections, one by the ruling party and another by the opposition.

The bill pushed forward by the ruling party offers moving to the fully proportional elections with a zero threshold [which is about 0.67 per cent of votes] starting 2020 and disallows the creation of election blocs.

The opposition bill says that Georgia must move to the fully proportional elections starting 2020 with a three percent election threshold and election blocs should be allowed to participate.

The bill proposed by the opposition has been rejected earlier today as only 32 MPs voted for it.

What was the system like in the past?

Georgia has had a mixed electoral system with 77 seats in its 150-member parliament allocated proportionally under the party-list among parties or electoral blocs which cleared a 5 per cent threshold in the race.

The remaining 73 MPs were elected in 73 single-member districts, known as “majoritarian” mandates. A majoritarian MP candidate has to gain more than 50 per cent of votes to take a seat in the legislative body.

The new constitution of Georgia, which was adopted in 2017, and which came into play after last year’s presidential elections, reads that Georgia would move to fully proportional elections from 2024, which is now subject to change.