Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, met on Sunday leaders of non-parliamentary opposition parties to discuss electoral system reform ahead of the local elections.
After the meeting some of the leaders from non-parliamentary opposition parties, who say that amendments proposed by Georgian Dream ruling majority fall far short of real change of electoral system, said that an agreement might be possible at least on some issues.
“I’ve seen willingness from the parliament speaker to reach a compromise,” Nino Burjanadze, leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia, said, adding that next meeting will be held in a week to hear GD’s final position over concerns remaining among non-parliamentary opposition parties.
Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said after the meeting that an agreement is possible on number of issues, among them on allocation of free airtime for political ads in provincial television channels during the campaign, allocation of state funds for those parties, which will clear certain threshold in vote.
“Number of complaints has reduced significantly after today’s meeting,” Usupashvili said. “I am sure that the draft of amendments presented in the Parliament will be improved in number of issues.”
One of the most debated issues over electoral system is a threshold for electing mayors in twelve cities and heads (gamgebeli) of dozens of municipalities across the country. GD ruling coalition’s proposal includes setting of 40% threshold for electing mayors, meaning that a candidate will require garnering more votes than others but not less than 40% in order to be declared an outright winner of the race without needing a runoff. Now Tbilisi is the only city where mayor is elected directly and the threshold is currently set at 30%. GD wants to set 33% threshold for electing of gamgebelis.
Non-parliamentary opposition parties, as well as a group of some leading civil society organizations, insist on having a 50% threshold. They are also calling for replacing single-mandate constituencies for electing majoritarian members of the local councils (Sakrebulos) with multi-mandate constituencies and introducing block vote system; the proposal was rejected by the GD.
Planned changes also includes lowering of threshold from current 5% to 4% for the party-list, proportional contest for seats in Sakrebulos in provinces, like it is in Tbilisi, meaning that a party garnering at least 4% in elections will be able to endorse its members in respective municipality’s Sakrebulo.