Composition of the Central Election Commission of Georgia
This policy document analyzes the problems related to the composition of Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) that undermine the trust in the election administration and election processes in general.
According to the amendments ensuing from the April 19 of, 2021 political agreement, the CEC is comprised of 17 members, out of which 8 members (including the chairperson) are non-partisan, while the political parties appoint the rest 9 members.
A party can appoint a member to the CEC if it gains at least one parliamentary mandate in the latest election. In the 2020 Parliamentary Elections, parties with 1% support could enter the Parliament. Overall, 9 electoral subjects managed to overcome this threshold. The upcoming 2024 Parliamentary Elections will be fully proportional, and only parties with at least 5% support will get parliamentary seats. Thus, naturally, due to the high threshold, the number of party-appointed members of the CEC is likely to be lower. This will distort the balance between partisan and non-partisan professional members of the CEC.
Due to the numerous amendments adopted by the parliamentary majority in recent years, the rule of the election of the chairperson and professional members of the CEC has severely deteriorated, and the questions regarding the independence of the CEC still prevail. According to the recent changes, the chairperson and the professional members of the CEC will be selected by the Chairperson of the Parliament (instead of the President), and only the simple majority of the parliamentary votes (instead of two-thirds) will be enough to elect them for the full term of 5 years.
To increase the independence of the CEC, it’s crucial to return to the core principles of the April 19, 2021, political agreement, which among other issues, includes keeping mixed composition of the CEC with a balance maintained between its partisan and professional members. Moreover, the authority to select the candidates for the position of chairperson and professional members should return to the President of Georgia. In addition, a ⅔ parliamentary majority should be needed to elect the CEC members for the full term.