Will change of electoral system help Georgia?

Will change of electoral system help Georgia?

A general discussion of constitutional amendments that can change the electoral system of the country has started in Georgia. According to the bill, submitted to the Parliament by the ruling coalition Georgian Dream, it is proposed to abolish first-past-the-post elections and to lower the electoral threshold from 5% to 4% after the parliamentary elections next year.

The opposition insists on similar changes in the electoral system of the country: representatives of the opposition parties (ten non-parliamentary and two parliamentary ones – United National Movement and Free Democrats) started collecting signatures for this initiative on September 22nd. They should be supported by no less than 200 thousand citizens of the country.

According to the Constitution of Georgia, parliamentary elections are held according to a mixed system: 77 deputies are elected according to a proportional system and 73 with the help of the first-past-the-post system, Sputnik-Georgia recalls.

According to experts questioned by Vestnik Kavkaza, a fully proportional system won’t solve the existing problems, as they are not caused by the electoral system. They are caused by the fact that the country isn’t working according to the principle of the rule of law. The political scientists noted that lowering the electoral barrier could be a positive initiative that will extend the presence of the opposition in the Parliament.

The head of the Center for Security Studies and International Relations Nika Chitadze said that, according to the opposition, rejection of the first-past-the-post system will reduce the chances of the success of the ruling coalition.  

"The opposition believes that the first-past-the-post districts (73 districts) are used by the authorities primarily as an administrative resource in order to succeed and win elections. The Georgian Dream coalition came to power with the help of the first-past-the-post system, so that the opposition insists on abolishing the system that existed before. They believe that the proportional number of political parties will give them an opportunity to represent their voters in the Parliament. The proposed changes are aimed at creating a purely proportional system in Georgia. This is the most advantageous for the opposition,’’ she noted.

The head of the Center for Global Studies Nana Devdariani said that only the introduction of a proportional system can strengthen the position of majority shareholders.

"The opposition often discussed the fact that deputies elected with the help of the first-past-the-post system are local feudal lords, ‘bags of money’, who always cooperate with the government. I cannot fully agree with this, because we know that democratic countries, where the first-past-the-post system works entirely. The problem is not in the system, the problem is in quite a different matter,’’ she concluded.

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