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Ruling Party Offers Amendments to Draft of New Electoral Code
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 9 Dec.'11 / 17:35

  • Allowing independent candidates to run for MP seat;
  • Removing blanket ban on the voting right of prisoners;

The ruling party plans to amend a draft of the electoral code to reflect in it some of the Venice Commission’s recommendations unveiled by this legal advisory body of the Council of Europe earlier this month.

Among the planed amendments to the draft are introducing a provision allowing an independent candidate to run for a majoritarian MP seat, as well as for City Council membership and Tbilisi mayoral office. Currently only a candidate nominated by a political party or an election bloc can run for office.

The Venice Commission has long been recommending Georgia to remove this restriction from the code. Opposition parties have always been reluctant towards such change, because they believe it would give the ruling party more room for maneuvering during majoritarian contest in single-mandate constituencies. Previously independent candidates were allowed to run for the majoritarian seat in single-mandate constituency and in the Parliament many of such candidates were believed to be in fact pro-government. Independent candidates were precluded from running for majoritarian MP seat ahead of the 2008 parliamentary elections upon the opposition’s request.

A five-member initiative group will be eligible to nominate an independent candidate, according to the proposal.

Taking into consideration a recommendation from the Venice Commission, the ruling party has also proposed to remove a blanket ban on the voting right of prisoners. According to the proposal convicts sentenced to no more than five years in jail will be eligible to cast ballot in elections, referendum and plebiscite.

The proposal also envisages some other recommendations from the Venice Commission, but issues such use of administrative resources and disparity between the constituencies remain unaddressed.

A senior ruling party lawmaker, Pavle Kublashvili, who presented proposal on December 8, said the proposed amendments to the draft were not final and discussions would continue on other issues, including on provisions regulating use of administration resources. 

Taking into consideration a recommendation by the local watchdog groups, the ruling party has agreed to allow taking photos/video at polling stations by persons authorized to be present at precincts.

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