Statement of CSOs on the Position of the Ruling Party about Electoral System Reform

On June 5, 2015, the ruling coalition Georgian Dream publicly announced its decision to leave the existing mixed electoral system for the 2016 parliamentary elections but with certain modifications. In particular, for a majoritarian candidate to be declared a winner, he or she must take at least 50% of votes. Further, to protect the principle of equality of votes and ensure implementation of the ruling of the Constitutional Court, boundaries of majoritarian districts will be redrawn. As to further reform of the electoral system, the ruling coalition has announced that because of the limited time remaining before the upcoming elections, majoritarian component of the electoral system will be abolished for the parliamentary elections in 2020 and post-2016 elections will be held using proportionate electoral system. 

We believe that proposed modifications address only part of the problems inherent to the existing electoral system and they fail to create competitive environment and level playing field for elections in Georgia. First, decreasing disproportion between majoritarian electoral districts would be difficult and would require artificial joining/division of many districts, which may lead to additional problems for equal territorial representation. Further, as illustrated by the 2014 local self-government elections, introducing a 50% threshold is insufficient for improving electoral processes in the country; rather, electoral threshold can only be a component of a comprehensive approach required to reform the system. 

We also believe that the argument of the ruling coalition about the lack of time to reform the electoral system is utterly unconvincing. Next parliamentary elections are 1.5 years away, which gives sufficient time for holding the 2016 parliamentary elections using proportionate system only, if there is political will.    

We believe that to improve the electoral system and create free and fair electoral environment, the authorities should take into account the common vision of civil society organizations specializing in elections and political spectrum, and hold the 2016 parliamentary elections using proportionate electoral system. Never has there been such a broad consensus about electoral system between political and civil society organizations in the history of contemporary Georgia, and it is unacceptable that the authorities are disregarding this consensus.