US, EU say passing election bill in 1st reading is ‘important step towards parliamentary pluralism’

  • The Georgian parliament passed an election bill in its first reading yesterday. Photo: parliament of Georgia press office., 22 Jun 2020 - 12:00, Tbilisi,Georgia

EU, US ambassadors have welcomed the passing of an election bill in its first reading yesterday, which was drafted per the agreement between the ruling party and the opposition in talks mediated by the diplomatic corps back in March. 

The US embassy said that passing the bill ensures a more proportional electoral system for the 2020 parliamentary elections and ‘is an important first step towards greater parliamentary pluralism’.

EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell tweeted that he hopes ‘all sides will take responsibility to ensure the bill’s final success.’ 

MEP Marina Kaljulad stated that passing the bill ‘is a clear, positive signal’. 

In November 2019 parliament rejected a bill  proposed by the ruling party, allowing an early transition to a fully proportional electoral system starting from 2020 instead of 2024. 

The opposition accused the ruling party of ‘deliberately rejecting the bill’ and ‘breaking its promise’ given to protesters in the summer of the last year. 

136 MPs, including members of the European Georgia opposition party, voted for the new bill  yesterday which says that 120 seats in parliament will be distributed based on the votes received in proportional elections, while remaining 30 per the votes received in majoritarian elections. 

The European Georgia party says that they will not vote for the bill in its second and the third readings if the ruling party ‘refuses to fully abide by the Match 8 election agreement and if co-founder of opposition-minded TV channel Mtavari Arkhi Giorgi Rurua remains in prison.’

We voted for the bill in its first reading not to allow the ruling party to reject it at the initial stage,” the party said. 

The United National Movement opposition party refused to vote for the bill because of Rurua.

Voting on the bill is scheduled to be completed by the end of June. 

The passing of the bill needs at least 113 votes in the 150-member parliament. 

The ruling party says that all iits 92 MPs will vote for the bill.