- Amendments involve:
- Ivanishvili-related constitutional changes;
- Cutting minimum age for MPs
- Enlisting ‘deregistered’ persons in voters’ list;
- Laying out principles for int’l election observation missions;
Parliament passed on June 28 with its third and final reading legislative amendments, reflecting in the election code changes in the constitution, which allows leader of Georgian Dream opposition coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili to vote and be elected in parliamentary and presidential elections this October and next year, respectively, without having Georgian citizenship.
Approved legislative amendment a Georgian-born citizen of EU-member state, who has permanently lived in Georgia for last 5 years (provision tailored to Ivanishvili), will enjoy all the rights and obligations envisaged by Georgia election code and law on political parties, among them to campaign and fund political parties; according to the law a person can donate maximum of GEL 60,000 to a political party per year.
Ivanishvili has said for number of times that he would not make use of constitutional amendment without having a Georgian citizenship.
Newly amended election code also envisages a provision to reflect another recent constitutional amendment according to which the minimum age for becoming an MP was reduced from 25 to 21.
In other changes, the election code now lays out principles, which an international election observation organization should meet in order to be registered to monitor Georgia’s elections; these are: “respecting Georgian legislation, sovereignty and international human rights norms; refraining from hampering the electoral process; political impartiality; financial independence from the participants of Georgia’s electoral process and transparency of financial sources; ruling out conflict of interests and observation of regulations recognized by the declaration of the key principles of international election observation”.
The emended election code now also specifies that an international election observation mission should have no more than two representatives at one polling station.
In other amendments, December 31, 2012 has been set as a date when mandate of the state-funded Voters’ List Verification Commission (VLVC) will end. According to the amendments to the election code, VLVC will be given right to carry out verification process of the list on the election day too. VLVC has carried out door-to-door verification of the voters’ list.
Passed amendments also envisage inclusion of so called “deregistered” voters and those incorrectly registered to specific addresses in the unified voters’ list – the move, which has triggered concern of local election observer organizations. Both of these categories of voters will be able, according to the amendment, to cast ballot in both proportional and majoritarian elections. According to VLVC there are about 80,000 of such voters.
“Deregistered” voters are those who have been removed from a specific address after flat owners on that specific address found out that individual, or in some cases several individuals, were wrongly registered to their addresses.
The problem of “deregistered” and incorrectly registered voters was one of the serious sources of controversy related to voters’ lists ahead of the 2010 local elections. At the time it was decided to allow “deregistered” voters to cast ballot, but only in proportional, party-list system and not in a majoritarian contest in single-mandate constituencies. At the time only those “deregistered” voters were able to cast ballot, who applied for inclusion in the voters’ list in advance of election day and the right to vote were not automatically granted to all of them.
In a joint statement on June 22 International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED); Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and Transparency International Georgia said, that automatically enlisting such individuals in the voter registry was not contributing to development of an accurate voters’ list.