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Controversial Rule on Party Funding Endorsed
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 Jul.'08 / 21:01

Parliament passed with its first hearing on July 5 a controversial amendment to the law that will deny six parties boycotting Parliament state funding.

According to the existing law, passed by Parliament in May 2007, any party clearing a 4% threshold in parliamentary elections and a 3% threshold in local self-government elections is entitled to GEL 150,000 annually, plus additional funding for every vote received and every MP elected.

The ruling party-proposed amendment, which will go into force if approved on its second and third hearings, however, would make the New Rights Party; Freedom Party; Movement for United Georgia; Georgia’s Way; Party of People and National Forum ineligible for the funding.
 
All six parties are part of the opposition coalition, which ran in the May 21 parliamentary elections on a joint ticket. The bloc won 17.73% of the vote. The parties, however, have refused to enter Parliament and have renounced their MP mandates in protest at, what they call, the falsified elections.

The amendment would reportedly deprive the six political parties of GEL 600,000 in total.

Georgian Troupe and On Our Own – former members of the bloc who quit following the elections in order to enter Parliament - will receive total funding of GEL 200,000.

The Conservative Party – also part of the opposition coalition – will also receive state funding even though they have renounced their MP mandates because it won more than 3% of votes in the 2006 local elections.

The same rule will mean that the Republican and Industrialist parties will also continue receiving funding from the state budget. Despite winning less than 4% of the vote in the May 21 parliamentary elections, they each got more than 3% in the local elections.

The Labor Party, whose leaders still remain MPs, will be eligible for the funding and is expected to receive about GEL 500,000.

The Christian-Democratic Party, which has six MPs, will be eligible to receive about GEL 560,000.

The opposition has condemned the proposed amendment to the law. The parliamentary minority, led by the Christian-Democratic Party, said the proposal was “discrimination” against those parties who made a political decision to boycott Parliament. Opposition lawmakers also said that the amendment was “punishment” by the authorities, which was unacceptable.

MP Pavle Kublashvili of the ruling party, however, said that parties refusing “to represent their voters in Parliament” should not receive state funding.

“Political groups refusing to participate in the political processes and constantly speaking about some kind of ‘public rebellion’ naturally cannot receive any funding [from the state budget],” MP Kublashvili, the chairman of the parliamentary committee for legal affairs, who is a co-sponsor of the draft law, told reporters on July 3.

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