ISFED thinks that Election System Reform Proposed by the Georgian Dream is Inadequate

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) issues this statement in response to the proposal of the coalition Georgian Dream about reforming the existing election system. ISFED thinks that proposed reform fails to address a number of important problems posed by the existing system and to ensure creation of fair election environment. 

Reaffirming our position, we’d like to state that mixed election system (combining majoritarian and proportional elements) will not allow translating votes into parliamentary seats in a proportionate manner, in violation of the principles of fair elections. 

To tackle existing problems and implement a meaningful reform, NGOs and political parties submitted their concrete proposal to the Parliament of Georgia. Notably, political circles and civil society have reached a broad consensus for the abolishment of the majoritarian system, altogether and replacing it with regional proportional system of voting. Regrettably, the only force opposing to this reform is the authorities; however, the fact that parliamentary majority refuses to have the majoritarian system abolished prior to the year 2020, highlights yet again the need for this reform. 

We do not share arguments put forward by the authorities about the lack of time to implement a comprehensive reform in time for the upcoming elections. Notably, NGO sector, experts and political parties have been offering a concrete model of changes in the election system for over two years. Furthermore, we think it is absolutely feasible to implement the Election Code reform during fall 2015 sessions of the parliament, i.e. one year ahead of the upcoming elections. It would only require political will from the authorities. 

The Coalition has stated that the proposed reform is part of the pre-election pledges of the Georgian Dream; however, the parliament has already been ordered by the decision of the Constitutional Court to reconsider borders of majoritarian districts and ensure equality between them. Neither the proposed changes, nor the proposed 50% threshold for majoritarian elections will ensure implementation of comprehensive reforms and promote free and equal election environment in the country. 

In this light, we call the authorities and the parliamentary majority once more to utilize all resources available and not to delay reform of the Election Code any further, because it is a necessary precondition for establishing justice and for democratic development of the country.