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Ruling Party May Compromise on Election Code
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 29 Oct.'07 / 19:08

There are signs that the ruling party may compromise and abolish the current rule of election of majoritarian MPs through a first-past-the-post, “winner takes all” system, although no final decision has been made yet.

The change of this system is among four major demands of the ten opposition parties, which also include holding of parliamentary elections in April, instead of late 2008; creation of the new election administrations with representatives from political parties and release of “political prisoners” and “prisoners of conscience,” specifically of Irakli Batiashvili.

Lawmakers from the ruling National Movement Party confirmed on October 29 that they were currently working on a draft amendments to the election code.

“There are two or three versions of the draft, which are different from the current ‘winner takes all’ system,” Mikheil Machavariani, the Vice-Speaker of Parliament, told the Tbilisi-based Mze TV on October 29.

However, later while speaking with Civil.Ge, MP Machavariani made more cautious comment. He did not say that a draft would envisage abolishment of the ‘winner takes all’ system, but added the ruling party was ready for a dialogue with the opposition over the issue. The final draft, he said, would be presented by November 10.

Nino Kalandadze, a lawmaker from the ruling party, told Civil.Ge on October 29 that the parliamentary majority might consider, as she put it, “compromising proposals.” Kalandadze, however, did not elaborate further details.

Giga Bokeria, an influential lawmaker from the ruling party, told Civil.Ge on October 29 that no decision about abolishment of the ‘winner takes all’ system was yet made.

According to the current rule of election of majoritarian MPs, only that party, which garners most of the votes in a multi-mandate (ranging from two to five-mandate) constituency, will endorse all of its nominees. As an alternative to this rule, the opposition has recently proposed a rule according to which voters should cast their ballots not to a party but to an individual majoritarian MP candidate regardless of a candidate’s party affiliation.

MP Bokeria told Civil.Ge that he was against of this proposal.

He also ruled out any compromise on opposition’s another demand involving composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC) by representatives of the political parties.

CEC is currently composed of certified electoral officials, who, by law, should not have any party affiliations. Opposition politicians, however, have said that the appointment of Levan Tarkhnishvili, who is believed to have close links MP Giga Bokeria, as chief of the CEC has once again demonstrated that the authorities were not willing to lessen their grip on the election administration.

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