Alliance for Georgia submitted to an inter-party working group on electoral reform a document laying out a joint vision of seven opposition parties on how the current system should be reshaped.
Alliance for Georgia, which unites Republican, New Rights and Our Georgia-Free Democratic parties, joined the working group on September 21 after an initial refusal to participate. Other four parties, which undersigned the proposed document, are Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement–United Georgia; Movement for United Georgia; Party of People and Conservative Party. These four parties are refusing to join the working group.
The proposed document is in line with the one, which was put forth by Republican and New Rights parties in February, 2009.
The new proposal submitted to the inter-party working group offers holding direct elections of mayors in five largest cities, including Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi and Poti. A mayor in these cities, according to the proposal, should be elected with 50% plus one vote, otherwise a runoff should be held.
Davit Berdzenishvili of the Republican Party said that the September 21 meeting of the working group revealed that their positions radically differ from the one of the ruling party on some key issues.
Berdzenishvili told RFE/RL Georgian service on September 22, that the ruling party only agrees to hold direct election of mayor only in the capital city. He also said that the ruling party was in favor of a winner-takes-all system, wherein a candidate with most of the votes and not necessarily with over 50% is declared a winner without runoff.
According to proposal Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo) should be elected through proportional system in multi-mandate constituencies of the capital city.
As far as election administrations are concerned, the proposal offers to compose Central Election Commission and lower level commissions based on “a parity rule” with those political parties, which have cleared threshold in recent parliamentary and local elections, appointing one representative each. The ruling party, however, does not seem to be in favor such an approach, as this proposal makes the National Movement in minority in the election administrations.
Berdzenishvili said that on September 21 the sides put forth their “starting positions” and the following meetings would show how far the sides would be able to compromise.
“We are ready for a compromise; we know that we won’t be able to clutch ideal elections from the authorities; but we should make the electoral environment tolerable.”
In the document the seven opposition parties also offer to create an arbitration council to deal with the electoral disputes. The council should be composed to 21 members, according to the proposal, of which 14 will be appointed by those parties, which cleared election threshold in recent local and parliamentary elections; three – by Supreme Court and two by the President and Parliament each. The council will take decisions with 2/3 of majority vote, according to the proposal.