President Saakashvili’s statement, made ahead of launch of election system reform talks, that he opposes change of current majoritarian MP election rule, amounts to setting a precondition, opposition politicians said.
“As we have agreed talks should be launched without preconditions; but I think that statements of this kind is already a precondition; so I want to call on the National Movement representatives not to make statements, which then can create problems to the negotiating process,” MP Levan Vepkhvadze, a vice-speaker of the parliament from the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), said on November 15.
He also said that it should be up to the negotiating group to agree on rules of electing majoritarian MPs.
Davit Berdzenishvili of Republican Party, which along with CDM and over dozen of other parties is part of election system negotiating group, said that when eight opposition parties put forth their vision on how the system should be reformed, the proposals were perceived by the ruling party as an ultimatum.
“Now Saakashvili himself is setting ultimatums,” Berdzenishvili said in an interview with the Georgian daily, Rezonansi, published on November 15.
He said that the authorities “will try to create problems to the negotiating process”, because the ruling party “is not happy with the launch of the talks.” He, however, also said that the opposition should not allow the authorities “to escape” from the negotiating process.
MP Pavle Kublashvili of the ruling party said that the President’s remarks were neither ultimatum nor precondition.
“Each issue will be discussed in a special group [referring to negotiating group] working on this issue. But there are some issues, which have no alternative – nobody, not a single party can say that a region should not have a representative in the Georgian Parliament,” he said.
President Saakashvili said on November 11 that some opposition parties were offering “to reduce or to abolish regions’ representatives in the Georgian Parliament – I can state it right now, that I will not at all agree on that.”
The only proposal on the matter was put forth by a group of eight opposition parties according to which the current rule of electing majoritarian MPs in 75 single-mandate constituencies should be changed with the new one in which multi-mandate constituencies will be introduced. Under the proposed system opposition will have more chances to endorse its candidates in the majoritarian contest.
Under the existing rule, wherein elections in single-mandate constituencies are held with winner-takes-all system, ruling party managed to win in 2008 elections 71 out of 75 seats available for the majoritarian MPs in the 150-seat Parliament. Another half of the seats in the legislative body are allocated through party-list, proportional system.