The ruling National Movement Party offered on Friday an inter-party working group on electoral reform to table final draft by late October and then to send it for expertise to Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal issues, Mamuka Katsitadze of the opposition New Rights Party said.
“This proposal by the ruling party is acceptable,” he told Civil.Ge on September 26.
Alliance for Georgia, which along with New Rights Party also unites Republican and Our Georgia-Free Democrats parties, joined the working group on electoral reform this month.
Katsitadze said that the issue of direct election of mayors in major cities was not discussed at the September 25 meeting. President Saakashvili said in his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 24 that “all mayors” would be elected directly. So far the authorities’ proposal involved direct election of Tbilisi mayor.
Katsitadze said that the ruling party representatives were not ready at this stage to discuss the issue at the Friday’s meeting, as well as the rule of composition of election administrations.
The ruling party representatives, in charge of election-related issues, have not yet commented on the President’s announcement on direct election of all mayors.
Before the President’s announcement, Vice Speaker of the Parliament, Mikheil Machavariani, acknowledged that opinions varied within the ruling party on the matter.
“Although many from the [parliamentary] majority support this idea [of direct election of mayors], personally I do not support direct elections, as it is institutionally unadjusted model and many countries have rejected this model,” MP Machavariani said at a parliament’s session on September 24.
The working group on electoral reform was established with the facilitation of U.S. National Democratic Institute in March, 2009. Earlier this week Alliance for Georgia submitted to the group list of proposals, supported by six other non-parliamentary opposition parties, which among other things also envisages direct election of mayors in agreed in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi and Poti.