Statement of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, the Georgian Young Lawyers Association and Transparency International Georgia on the rules of election and rights and duties of Mayors and Governors
The bill submitted to the Parliament of Georgia on “Local Self-Government Code” offered important changes such as direct election of Mayors and Governors, for which our organizations had long been advocating. Unfortunately, the bill includes a provision, which weakens importance of the institutions of Mayors and Governors.
Namely, Article 48 of the bill introduces a procedure of declaring non-confidence to directly elected Mayors and Governors. This procedure can be initiated by the majority members of an Assembly on the current nominal list or by 20 percent of the Municipality electors. This norm is against the principle of representative democracy. The right to declare non-confidence towards a Mayor/Governor elected by the majority of electors is granted to Assemblies, and it is sufficient for a group of 15-20 members of an Assembly to exercise this right. In addition, the bill does not define the conditions, when an Assembly could start non-confidence procedure. This will permit Assemblies to misuse the procedure, especially if there is a political or any similar disagreement between a Mayor/Governor and an Assembly.
Along with the fact, that resignation of a Mayor/Governor in accordance with such procedures contradicts the will of the electors, it could also create politically unstable environment. According to Article 48.4 of the bill, Assemblies are given an opportunity to exercise the procedure of non-confidence for several times during one month of the term of Mayors’/Governors’ Offices. This could lead to Mayors’/Governors’ dependence on Assemblies and on goodwill of the political parties within such Assemblies, so as the latter will not initiate the procedure of non-compliance. Such configuration of the procedure will have an impact on decisions taken by Mayors/Governors.
The main reasons for directly electing the officials are inclusion of people in development of self-governmental bodies, as well as stability and independence of the elected official/body. Derogating this right to Assemblies would lead to a reality, which is already imposed by the present day Code, according to which, the head of an Assembly can discharge a Governor with the consent of the Assembly. Unfortunately, we have seen several clear examples of this during the year of 2013. Therefore, such a provision reduces the importance and notion of direct elections of the above-mentioned officials.
We would also like to note, that the bill on “Self-Government Code” does include any amendments regarding the electoral system. It is our position that a fair electoral system is a prerequisite for successful implementation of local self-government reform and thereby, discussion on such a system should start immediately.
We consider, that electoral system should satisfy the following core requirements: proportional reflection of electoral will into mandates, reduction of the lost electoral ballots, equal weight of each electoral ballot, representation of different social groups, small political parties and independent candidates, increase in trust towards elections and an emphasis on strong candidates.
We would like to once again underline, that all of the stakeholders should reach an agreement on an electoral system by consensus, which requires substantial amount of time and effort. Therefore, working towards this direction should start as soon as possible.
NGOs will be actively involved in the process of self-government reform in future as well and will communicate their opinions regarding this matter to the Parliament of Georgia and the society.