Georgian Parliament adopts EU-recommended electoral amendments in penultimate hearing

The Georgian Parliament on Thursday adopted electoral amendments with their second reading, with the third and final reading still ahead. Photo: Parliament press office, 15 Dec 2022 - 16:59, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian Parliament on Thursday adopted amendments to the country’s electoral code in their penultimate reading as part of the conditions set by the European Union in June for granting it the membership candidate status. 

The vote followed the recent, “clearly positive” evaluations of the bill by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. 

Supported by 88 MPs in the 150-member Parliament, including legislators from the Georgian Dream ruling party as well non-partisan MPs and members of the Lelo, Girchi, Citizens and the European Socialists opposition groups, the bill featured 20 amendments, with 13 reflecting international recommendations. 

The United National Movement opposition party - the largest opposition group in the country - along with Strategy Agmashenebeli and MPs from the For Georgia opposition party rejected the vote following their two meetings with GD for reaching an agreement on controversial questions. 

Georgia applied for EU membership in March along with Ukraine and Moldova, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Nino Alavidze/ 

The meetings led to agreements on 10 questions eventually included in the bill, with the rejection of mandatory certification for party members in election commissions - requested earlier by the opposition - among them. 

In his comments earlier this month, Givi Mikanadze, an MP from the ruling party, said electoral changes related to residency status for candidates in municipal elections, measures for ensuring impartiality of members and observers in lower-level election commissions, introduction of additional criteria for recalculating election results, and increased deadlines for submitting complaints had been “particularly highlighted as positive” in the OSCE/ ODIHR and Venice Commision assessments. 

The Parliamentary working group on electoral reforms, which proposed the amendments in September, was created as part of the Georgian Government’s efforts to address the EU conditions for obtaining the bloc’s membership candidate status, which included an entry related to elections that recommended Georgian authorities to further improve the electoral framework and address all shortcomings identified by OSCE/ODIHR and Venice Commision. 

The bill will have the third, and final, hearing at the legislative body before entering into force.