The ruling party tailors the procedure of recognition of powers of majoritarian members of city councils to its own interests
TI Georgia believes that the draft amendments to the Election Code and the Local Self-Government Code of Georgia, which were initiated by members of the parliamentary majority on May 10 and regulate the issue of powers of city council members elected in by-elections a new manner, have only been tailored to the interests of the ruling party.
According to the draft law initiated by members of the parliamentary majority, a majoritarian member of a city council elected in by-elections will be able to commence his/her activities as a deputy without his/her powers being recognized by the city council, on the 11th day after the publication of the summary protocol of the final election results on the official website of the CEC. The draft amendments concern the procedure of recognition of powers of city council members elected only as a result of by-elections.
The Georgian Dream seems to be trying to obtain a majority in the Batumi City Council, as well as to retain the stalemate situation in the Senaki City Council and also obtain a firm majority there by achieving re-run elections, as a result of the legislative amendments. It is necessary that the proposed draft law contain provisions designed to rectify the existing flaws.
The Georgian Dream has decided to overcome the crisis in the Batumi City Council to their advantage by means of this initiative. The Batumi City Council has yet to recognize the powers of Ramaz Jincharadze, a majoritarian member elected in the by-elections of the City Council who represents the Georgian Dream, because opposition parties are boycotting the City Council’s sessions and the necessary quorum cannot be assembled without them. According to the current wording of the law, recognition of the powers of Mr. Jincharadze requires the consent of 18 members of the City Council, while the Georgian Dream does not have so many members in the municipal body. After the proposed initiative is adopted, Ramaz Jincharadze will become a member of the City Council, and, accordingly, the ruling party will form a majority.
The situation is also problematic in the Senaki City Council, which cannot assemble due to boycott by the Georgian Dream. At the very first session on December 3, 2021, a member of the City Council elected on the proportional list of the For Georgia party, Ilia Akhalaia, left the City Council, as a result of which the number of representatives of the ruling party and that of the opposition as a whole became equal, with each of them having 16 members, while the attendance of 17 members is required for holding a session. Since this moment, the City Council has been unable to recognize the powers of Nikoloz Shamatava, a replacement of Ilia Akhalaia in the municipal body, due to the boycott by the Georgian Dream.
Representatives of the United National Movement and the For Georgia party tried to overcome this crisis by arguing that the session of December 3 had not been declared closed and, therefore, its continuation didn’t require a quorum; on February 9, they set up a vote-counting commission, recognized the powers of Nikoloz Shamatava, and on February 23 elected Irakli Kacharava, a representative of the For Georgia party, as the Chairperson of the City Council. These decisions were suspended by the Court of Senaki as a result of a lawsuit of the Georgian Dream, although the Court has not yet delivered the final decision. To some extent, the stalemate situation in the Senaki City Council emerged due to flawed legislation, although the proposed draft law does not provide for rectifying it.
If the Senaki City Council cannot assemble until June 3, 2022, this will become the grounds for early termination of its powers, which is in the interests of the Georgian Dream. It is necessary to introduce an amendment into the legislation to ensure that the recognition of the powers of a member elected to a city council by the proportional method and/or those of his/her replacement is no longer dependent on the city council’s decision. As a result of such a unified approach, it will no longer be necessary to hold re-run elections in Senaki.
- We call on the Parliament of Georgia not to tailor the legislative amendments only to the interests of the ruling party in the Batumi City Council and to put an emphasis on the development and introduction of a unified standard of staffing of local self-government bodies.
- TI Georgia is of the position that the recognition of the powers of a member of a city council may by no means require the consent of the city council, regardless of whether he/she was elected in general elections or majoritarian by-elections or is replacing a member elected by the proportional method.