Two non-parliamentary opposition parties – the Republican Party and the Free Democrats – joined the Movement for Liberty-European Georgia in demanding a plebiscite on abolishing the direct presidential election, as well as on the introduction of the new electoral system, according to which, the votes of the parties that fail to cross the threshold would go to the winner.
“The Georgian Dream (GD) party entirely ignored the positions of other political actors in the commission, of non-governmental organizations and the public defender on important issues of the country’s political arrangement … and drafted a proposal which serves GD’s narrow party interest for maintaining power, to the detriment of the country’s democratic development,” the Free Democrats leader Shalva Shavgulidze said at his press briefing on May 8.
Shavgulidze added that the Free Democrats party would join the campaign of the Movement for Liberty-European Georgia so that “no essential amendments are made to the constitution in line with narrow party interests and desires of the ruling political party” and so that “constitutional amendments represent the result of a broad public consensus and agreement.” “Only in this way would the constitution manage to ensure the harmonious regulation of the country’s public and political life, [as well as] the effective protection of the rights and freedoms of each and every citizen or resident of the country.”
The Republican Party released a statement on the matter on May 8 as well, saying that the change in the presidential election procedure “does not reflect the positions of Georgian citizens,” and that constitutional reform “of such scale,” should not happen “without considering the political context.”
“The Constitution of Georgia should adequately reflect the priorities of Georgia’s population. It should not be a document reflecting temporary, ad hoc decisions,” the statement said. “Therefore, we support the initiative proposed by the Movement for Liberty-European Georgia.”
“We urge the Georgian citizens to express their positions on the plebiscite, which will establish preconditions for the Prime Minister to set the plebiscite, thus enabling citizens to express their personal visions on whether the President of Georgia should be elected by the people, through direct voting (current rule), or by those parties that cleared the threshold (in proportion to the votes obtained),” the statement said.
The plebiscite “will give us a chance to end the established faulty practice of tailoring the constitutional amendments to the interests of the ruling party and enable us to establish constitutional grounds for democratic development.”