On May 6, eighty-five civil society organizations of the Georgian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, released a joint appeal to the Parliament on the proposed constitutional amendments, saying that the new rule of vote distribution “will grant unfair advantage to the winning party.”
According to the draft constitution, the parliamentary elections are to be held by proportional system, based on party lists. The parties would have to clear the 5% threshold to seat an MP. Controversially, the votes of those parties that would fail to clear the threshold would go to the winner, rather than get distributed proportionally among all parties that have cleared the threshold.
CSOs say the transition to fully proportional system “can only be welcomed,” but the rule of wasted vote distribution “is regrettable,” as it does not guarantee the proportional representation of political parties in the Parliament and the establishment of stable multi-party system. “Moreover, we believe that the proposed rule violates the basic principle of fair elections – the principle of equality,” the statement reads.
“As historical experience demonstrates, in all elections held in 1995-2016, the average votes wasted because of the 5% threshold stood at about 20.1%. As a result, the winning party would receive at least 7 and at most 92 mandates as a bonus,” the CSOs also stated.
The organizations spoke against banning the political parties from forming electoral blocs ahead of elections, saying it would “significantly increase the number of wasted votes, bearing in mind the weak party system, scarce financial resources and the 5% threshold.”
CSOs called on the Parliament to “bring the rule of mandate distribution in line with the principles of fair elections and apply the rule of proportional distribution of unallocated seats, as well as to reduce the threshold to 3%, provided that the proportional rule for parliamentary composition is maintained.”