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New Rights Leader: Increase of Parliament Seats Not Likely
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 19 Dec.'11 / 01:30

Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of New Rights Party, said on December 18, that increase of number of MPs in the next Parliament from current 150 to 190 was no longer likely. 

Gamkrelidze's party, along with the ruling National Movement party and Christian-Democratic Movement, has joined the electoral system reform deal this summer, which, among other issues, was also paving the way for a controversial proposal to increase number of MPs in the next Parliament, contrary to 2003 referendum in which voters said they want to have no more than 150 MPs. According to that deal majoritarian seats should be increased from current 75 to 83 and seats allocated through party-list, proportional system from current 75 to 107. Opposition parties, which joined the deal, argued that the move would have helped creating more pluralistic Parliament.

The argument is based on the notion that while the ruling party still have more chances to win most of the majoritarian seats, there will be more chances for the opposition to increase its representation in the Parliament mainly thanks to increasing number of seats allocated through party-list, proportional system by 32 (for more details how the system can affect distribution of seats in the Parliament visit this link).
A relevant constitutional amendment on increasing number of MPs was initiated in early November; but on December 6 both the ruling party and lawmakers from CDM have indicated about the plans to reconsider whether to further push for the proposal or not; although citing different motives, it became clear that lawmakers from both the parliamentary majority and minority were reluctant towards increasing seats in the legislative body. Davit Bakradze, the parliamentary speaker, said on December 16, that consultations would be held between the ruling party and parliamentary minority lawmakers in order to discuss issues related to number of seats in the legislative body.

Speaking at the Georgian Public Broadcaster's weekly political talk show, Accents, on December 18, Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of New Rights Party, expressed regret that criticism against the electoral system reform deal by those opposition parties, which had refused to join the agreement, helped to create negative public opinion towards the deal "which allowed the authorities to revise one of the key points of the agreement" - the increase of number of MPs. He said that the increase would have helped to increase share of opposition representation in the Parliament through proportional, party-list contest.

"Unfortunately now it is already under the question mark," Gamkrelidze said. "Actually, increase of [parliamentary seats] to 190 will probably no longer takes place."

He said that it would have "disastrous consequences" for the opposition if the number of seats in the Parliament were kept at 150, but number of majoritarian MPs anyway increased from current 75 to 83 at the expense of downsizing seats allocated through party-list, proportional contest from current 75 to 67.

"In this case any governing party, no matter who it is... would gain constitutional majority in the Parliament very easily," Gamkrelidze said.

"We knew it was very unpopular," Gamkrelidze continued, referring to the proposal on increasing seats in the Parliament, "but we took this burden and supported this deal together with CDM with a purpose of preventing a single party from taking constitutional majority."

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