The Parliament of Georgia overturned on July 26 President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s vetoes on the amendments to the Local Self-Government Code and the Election Law.
The bills, approved by the Parliament on June 30 and vetoed by the President on July 21, entail reducing the number of self-governing cities from current twelve to five; introducing new rule of composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the new way of defining the number of majoritarian members in the local municipality councils.
In his written objections to the Parliament, President Margvelashvili said that revoking the self-governing status of the seven cities “goes against fundamental principles of both - the constitution and the self-government.”
The President also pointed out that merging the self-governing cities with neighboring communities would worsen the municipal services and citizen inclusion in the governance process.
On the Election Code, Giorgi Margvelashvili noted that the amendments “do not contribute to the trust towards the election administration and the political pluralism in the election management process.”
He also said that the new rules for defining the number of majoritarian members in the local municipality councils does not provide for “fair representation” of the cities and other urban settlements that are included in the municipalities, and that it “creates further inequality in terms of the weight of votes.”
Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze commented the President’s objections during the plenary session, saying they were notable for “absolute deficit of arguments” and for “political bias.” “Therefore, we can support the original bill and overturn the President’s veto with an absolutely clear and free consciousness,” Kobakhidze told the members of Parliament.
The decision to include seven self-governing cities – Mtskheta, Telavi, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Ambrolauri, Zugdidi and Ozurgeti - into the neighboring municipalities will come into force on the day President Margvelashvili announces the date of the 2017 municipal elections. Voters in these self-governing units will elect already merged Sakrebulos and mayors in October municipal elections.
Meanwhile, the new rules for appointing the party representatives in the election administration will come into force following the October municipal polls.