NGOs Propose Local Self-Government Election System to the Inter-Fractional Group

The Inter-Factional Group for elections was set up under the December 26, 2013 order of the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, with the aim of preparing draft amendments to the organic law of Georgia Election Code of Georgia and other laws concerning self-government elections and submitting them to the parliament. 

The inter-factional group already had its first working meeting with the involvement of NGOs, parliamentary and non-parliamentary political parties. 

We believe that modification of the election system is a priority for the upcoming local self-government elections with the aim of establishing the system that ensures that elections are free and fair, and the will of voters is proportionately reflected in mandates.  

Notably, today’s election system has been long criticized by NGOs and political parties as it fails to ensure that will of voters is proportionately reflected in mandates. The number of lost votes is high and the principle of equality of votes is not observed. 
Even though the necessity of modifying the election system has long been discussed (we raised the issue before the inter-factional group for immediate discussion as early as in 2013), the inter-factional group failed to address the issue and postponed it. Regrettably, inter-factional group on elections could only be assembled in January 2014 to openly discuss the issue for the first time. 

We support the election system that will be successful in solving today’s systemic problems and in improving reflection of constituents’ will. Consequently, in the process of elaboration of the present recommendations it was our aim to propose the municipal elections systems that would successfully address today’s challenges. 

We believe that if the government makes the political decision in a timely manner and introduces the amendments to the Election Code by mid-February, it will be possible to make important steps forwards in improving the election system; however, if the process will be delayed, considering that in addition to training of election administration personnel and addressing other technical and administrative issues, modification of the election system is also requires a large-scale campaign to raise public awareness, the authorities may or may not be able to make any comprehensive changes in the system. 

We have determined the following priorities that should be envisaged by the new election system:
 Proportionality – votes are proportionately translated into mandates; 
 Minimum “lost votes”
 Promote representation of small parties and independent candidates; 
 Representation of different groups the society (minorities) and gender equality; 
 Increased public trust in elections; 
 Candidates centered system
 Less likelihood of repeat elections

In view of the foregoing criteria we have put forward the following election systems:  
Local councils (Sakrebulos)
a) Proportional elections – Party List proportional representation system (List PR) for proportional elections; majoritarian elections – block voting for multi-mandate constituencies and alternative vote for single-mandate constituencies;  
b) The system of mixed membership 
Election of Gamgebeli (Mayor) – alternative vote system. 
For the election of Gamgebeli (Mayor) we support the 50% barrier, which is envisaged by the election system put forward by us. We think that the barrier will reflect will of the majority of voters and will ensure high degree of legitimacy of the elected candidate.    

We remain hopeful that the inter-fractional group will examine the recommendations in a timely manner and will adhere to the foregoing principles and act in favor of the interests of Georgian citizens in the process of decision-making about modification of the election system. By doing so, it will make significant strides in the democratic development of the country.      

Detailed information about the priorities of the election systems offered by organizations is available here.