Election bill voting postponed, opposition vows rallies if bill is scrapped

  • The Georgian Dream party’s proposed election bill, which offers Georgia to move to fully proportional elections from 2020, will be voted on tomorrow morning. Photo: Parliament of Georgia press office.   

Agenda.ge, 13 Nov 2019 - 18:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

Voting on a bill proposed by the Georgian Dream (GD) ruling party to change the electoral system to a fully proportional one starting from 2020 instead of 2024 has been postponed as the GD requested this.

The vote will take place tomorrow as the ruling party needs another meeting “to assure” several of its MPs to vote for the bill.

Parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition parties, who fear that the ruling party may scrap the bill and retain the mixed-electoral system for 2020, have announced a meeting later today “to stand together not to allow the GD to throw the bill away.”

The opposition vows that they will take to the streets and the current government will see the “largest protests ever" if the bill is removed.

After the meeting of the ruling party earlier today GD MPs said that “most of our members” support the bill. However, they added that passing the bill will require the opposition’s support.

GD MP Mamuka Mdinaradze has accused the United National Movement opposition party of staging provocations and making incorrect statements which “have made several MPs change their minds about the bill.”

The opposition, which dislikes several notes in the bill, say that they will vote for it anyway “to save it.”

The leader of the United National Movement opposition party Grigol Vashadze (L) says that the government will see rallies if the bill is scrapped. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

Participants of the June protests in Tbilisi, who were demanding fully proportional elections which the current government accepted, have announced the launch of rallies starting at 7 p.m. today, in front of the parliament building, “to make the government keep its promise.”

At least 113 MPs of total 150 must vote for the bill for it to be passed. The GD has less than 100 MPs in parliament.  GD MP Kakha Okriashvili, who opposes the bill, says that about 30 MPs of the ruling party dislike the bill. 

Previous developments

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, which says that majoritarian elections benefit ruling parties, 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 movement Serving the Country, which was formed during the June rallies in Tbilisi, has announced a rally later today to "ensure the bill is passed." Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.age. 

The opposition bill, which read that Georgia should have moved to the fully proportional elections starting 2020 with a three percent election threshold and election blocs should be allowed to participate, was rejected yesterday.

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 five 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.