Georgian Dream ruling coalition is offering to set minimal threshold for electing mayors of self-governed cities in the first round of vote at 40% and for electing of heads of municipalities at 33%.
In December the Parliament passed with its first reading a bill on local self-governance reform envisaging direct election of mayors in twelve towns, as well as direct election of heads of all the municipalities across the country. Direct election of mayor is currently only in the capital Tbilisi.
In parallel to discussing the bill with its second and third readings, drafting of electoral system under which local elections should be held this year will also start with the involvement of non-parliamentary political parties.
The threshold is likely to be among the most debated issues in these discussions over the electoral system.
Under the existing rule a candidate, who wins more votes than others, but not less than 30% will be declared an outright winner of Tbilisi mayoral race.
Higher threshold increases chances for a runoff and as the past experience shows political parties in opposition are in favor of having 50% threshold and those in the government prefer lower threshold.
That was the case ahead of the 2010 local elections, when some of those parties, which are now united in the GD ruling coalition and back then were in the opposition were pushing for having a 50%, or at least 45%, threshold for electing Tbilisi mayor. The United National Movement, which at the time was in government, was strongly against. Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), which at the time had a small faction in the Parliament, was offering as a “compromise” a 33% threshold.
“We are talking about increasing a threshold. We want mayors of cities to be elected with a 40% threshold… and heads of municipalities – by 33%,” Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said on January 16.
A lawmaker from UNM, Davit Sakvarelidze, whose party was against of setting 50% threshold when it was a governing party, said on January 17 that the GD ruling coalition wants to create favorable conditions for its “weak” Tbilisi mayoral candidate Davit Narmania by setting a 40% threshold instead of 50%. Narmania, who is now minister for infrastructure and regional development, responded that his support will be much more than 40%.
GD MP Tina Khidasheli said on January 18 that 40% threshold is a proposal tabled by the ruling coalition, which is subject to further negotiations with the political forces.