Two candidates for the post of chair and five candidates for membership on the Central Election Commission have been proposed to the president following the recent resignation of Tamar Zhvania on June 30.
The Georgian parliament adopted electoral amendments on June 28 proposed by the ruling Georgian Dream party and opposition party Citizens amid months of standoff between the government and opposition and were revised in compliance with the April 19 EU-mediated agreement.
Former Head of the CEC Tamar Zhvania’s resignation, stipulated in the amendments, aimed to help the implementation of the April 19 agreement following the opposition’s demand for a new chairperson of CEC.
A selection commission composed of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the academic field listened to seven candidates for the CEC chairmanship and selected current employees of the administration Giorgi Kalandarishvili and Giorgi Santuriani.
Giorgi Kalandarishvili was appointed as the head of the CEC Human Resources Management Department in 2019.
Another candidate for the CEC chairmanship, Giorgi Santuriani, has been working at the CEC since 2018. He has been the head of the CEC Legal Department since 2020.
Representatives of the non-governmental sector did not support the CEC chairmanship candidates.
“The Selected candidates do not meet the criteria of independence and principality,” Executive Director of Georgian non-governmental organisation IDFI (Institute for Development of Freedom of Information) Giorgi Kldiashvili noted.
I had a feeling that the supported chairmanship candidates were all in an agreed position and that was really wrong...I really did not see principality and independence in those two candidates,” Kldiashvili said.
The Head of the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association Nika Simonishvili also didn’t support the candidates for the CEC chairmanship and noted that if the president approves these candidates and presents them to the parliament, the legislature should not support them.
I think they do not meet the most important criteria, which is high public credibility and all political forces won’t be able to trust them,” said Simonishvili.
MP Mamuka Khazaradze from the faction Lelo - Partnership for Georgia thinks that the nomination of CEC staff for chairmanship indicates that the Georgian Dream is trying to select people who will serve them.
Ruling party MP Irakli Zarkua believes that the country will meet upcoming local elections with a ‘more open, transparent and acceptable for everyone electoral environment.’
The president of Georgia must make a decision regarding the candidates within three days and submit two candidates for each vacant position to the parliament.
The election of the CEC chair for five years needs 100 parliamentary votes. However, if the candidate fails to get this number of votes, then 76 votes will be enough for election to the post for six months.