2014 Local Self-Government

Statement of NGO on the Increase of the Electoral Threshold in Local Elections

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Transparency International Georgia, and the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association welcome the readiness of the ruling coalition to raise the electoral threshold by up to 50% in the local self-government elections.

The ruling party's initial decision envisaged setting up a 40% threshold for the self-governing city mayors elections and the 33% threshold for the governors elections, which the NGOs did not support; rather, they requested a 50% threshold for all elected officials (governors/mayors).We, therefore, believe that a threshold of 50 % is a step forward for enhancing the degree of legitimacy of elected officials.

On the other hand, our recommendations are much more complex and envisage comprehensive changes in the electoral system, as the electoral system for municipal (Sakrebulo) elections remains problematic, falling short of the one-man-one-vote principle of equality and failing to ensure that votes are proportionately translated into mandates. 
We believe that the authorities should demonstrate greater readiness for large-scale changes, since an increase in the barrier alone cannot bring about a substantial improvement of the system.

In order to improve the system and create a free and fair electoral environment, the authorities should consider the following recommendations: 

Create multi-mandate constituencies for the majoritarian municipal (Sakrebulo) elections to observe the one-man-one-vote principle of equality;

Remove altogether the no-confidence vote against mayors and governors as it contradicts the principle of direct elections and significantly diminishes its importance;
Allow initiative groups to propose independent candidates in the local elections to ensure political pluralism, the absence of which will bring the above law in direct conflict with the international standards and OSCE commitments undertaken by Georgia. 

Although the time is limited, we believe that a relevant set of amendments should be sent to the Venice Commission in the next few days so that the latter is able to deliver pertinent evaluations in the shortest possible time, which, we hope, will subsequently be taken into account by the Georgian authorities.

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Transparency International Georgia, and the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association are ready to hold discussions around the proposed recommendations in any format and hope that the authorities will once again reconsider their position on the above issues before the final document is adopted.