The electoral system is unfair: the ruling party is refusing to reform or consider important recommendations
We, Transparency International Georgia, the Georgian Young Lawyers Association and the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, believe that the amendments proposed to the Inter-Parliamentary Working Group by the ruling party are not enough to create a fair voting system for the upcoming municipal elections.
It is unfortunate that the Ruling Coalition in the Inter-Parliamentary Working Group did not view reform of the electoral system as a priority to ensure fair and equal elections.
NGOs, political parties and international organizations have highlighted the following problems in the current electoral system:
City council mandates are not accurately reflected by the number of votes cast;
Many votes are effectively wasted because a candidate who lacks the support of a majority is able to win an election;
It does not guarantee the principle of equality – districts of differing sizes have an equal amount of seats in local councils;
It gives an unfair advantage to the whichever party is currently ruling
As the upcoming municipal elections are now only a few months away we proposed two reforms which could still be implemented in time:
- A 50% vote threshold for the election of mayors and municipal governors
- The introduction of multi-mandate election districts for majoritarian representatives in local councils (so that districts with more voters are accurately reflected by more representatives)
These minimal changes would have at least been a step forward in improving the election system and were supported by number of NGOs and political parties who together submitted a joint petition to remedy these problems.
Prior to the 2012 parliamentary elections these reforms were demanded by the opposition — the current ruling coalition.
Despite our encouragements, the ruling coalition within the Inter-Parliamentary Working Group has not implemented a single one of our recommendations. Nor have they presented any viable argument to justify their refusal. We do not consider that the amendments proposed by the ruling coalition are sufficient to rectify the current problems, in fact it creates further problems, for example:
An existing provision allows an independent (unaffiliated with any party) to register as a mayoral/governor candidate, the Inter-Parliamentary Working Group propose to remove this, which is a clear violation of international election standards.
It not logical or fair that there are different vote thresholds between the election of a mayor and a municipal governor.
We believe that proposed amendments made by the ruling coalition are merely superficial and do not constitute an attempt to establish a fair electoral system in Georgia.
It is a pity that the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Working Group has been a formality and that the ruling coalition refuses to consider the proposals of other members of the working group.