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Remarks on the ammendments to

the Constitution of Georgia

To: The Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia

Mr. Shalva Papuashvili

The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe

 

We would like to address you, based on the situation in the country. One of the important obstacles on the path of Georgia's integration into the European Union is the polarization of the political spectrum between two poles. The end to the conflict between the government and the largest opposition party has been set as a condition by our international partners. We believe that an appropriate institutional environment is necessary for depolarization. The electoral threshold should be reduced to the natural threshold, or no more than 2% in the next two parliamentary elections, according to the agreement reached through the mediation of EU President Charles Michel.

In accordance with the aforementioned agreement, amendment to the constitution concerning the reduction of the threshold was passed by the parliament in the first reading.

We believe that in order to overcome such polarization in Georgia, three important changes are necessary before the second reading:

  1. The electoral threshold should not be set on 2%, rather it should be natural threshold of – 0.67%.
  2. The mentioned constitutional amendments should be permanent, rather than applicable only for next two elections;
  3. Not only parties, but also electoral blocs should be permitted to participate in elections.

The implementation of these changes will ensure the guaranteed diversity of the Georgian political spectrum. It will exclude the sole control of all branches of government by one political group and will be an incentive for cooperation and coalition-style government composition in the future.

We believe that, for a country which is on its way to Europe and has a 30-year long history of polarization, a system similar to the Dutch electoral model is necessary, this will definitely bring the diversity and the need for the  intensive cooperation.

The aforementioned changes fully comply with the conditions stipulated by the "Charles Michel Agreement", also, it should be noted that there is a long tradition of electoral blocs in Georgia and "Georgian Dream" itself won the 2012 elections as an electoral bloc. Moreover, it was the electoral blocs that ensured all peaceful transfers of power in Georgia (in 1990 and 2003). Electoral blocs are a good mean to gradually consolidate the highly fragmented Georgian political spectrum. Without electoral blocs, political groups will be forced to refuse to participate in elections independently, and will have no other choice than, to run under the hood of "Georgian Dream" or "National Movement", which will again leave more than half of the electorate outside the playing field.

It should be noted that in 2019, due to the efforts of the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission, a one-time norm was included in the constitution, according to which electoral blocs were allowed to participate in the 2020 parliamentary elections.

We hope that, an agreement will be reached on the aforementioned issues within the framework of the "national consensus" policy declared by the government.

At the same time, we ask the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe to make special efforts in order to ensure that the agreement between the government and the opposition will be reached on this issue.

Members of the Parliament of Georgia:

  1. Girchi- Iago Khvichia (member of Parliament of Georgia)
  2. Girchi – Vakhtang Megrelishvili  (member of Parliament of Georgia)
  3. Republican Party of Georgia – Khatuna Samnidze
  4. State for the People- Nika Machutadze  (member of Parliament of Georgia)

Non-parliamentary opposition parties:

  1. European Democrats – Paata Davitaia
  2. United Georgia – Nino Burjanadze
  3. Independent Georgia – Kakha Kukava
  4. Independence – Malkhaz Gorgaslidze
  5. For Justice – Eka  Beselia
  6. For Civil Rights – Zurab Kharatishvili
  7. Tribune – Davit Chichinadze
  8. Georgian Choice- Bezhan Gunava
  9. Christian Democratic Movement – Gocha Jojua