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Ruling Party Firm on 30% Threshold for Mayoral Election
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Nov.'09 / 12:21

The ruling party has already compromised on number of key electoral issues, including on rule of electing Tbilisi mayor and now expects the Alliance for Georgia to reciprocate and agree on 30% threshold for electing the capital city’s mayor, a senior ruling party lawmaker said on November 20.

MP Akaki Minashvili, chairman of the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs, who has been engaged in talks over electoral reform in frames of the inter-party working group, told Civil.Ge the 30% threshold is a maximum on which the ruling party could agree.

He said the ruling party initially wanted no threshold at all, but “in the process of negotiations we compromised” and agreed on 30%.

“We have also compromises on the rule of composition of the Tbilisi City Council and agreed on 25/25 scheme, which was endorsed by all the negotiating parties, including the Alliance for Georgia,” MP Minashvili said, referring to the proposal according to which 25 seats will be allocated proportionally based on party-list system and rest of the 25 seats will go to City Council members elected in majoritarian single-mandate constituencies.

MP Minashvili also said that the 30% threshold was endorsed in frames of inter-party working group by all the participants, except of Alliance for Georgia, which unites three parties – Republican, New Rights and Our Georgia-Free Democrats. Decisions in the group are made through consensus and each party has the right of veto.

“We are willing to have a consensus and to reach an agreement within this format; but after number of our compromises, now it is up to Alliance for Georgia to join the group’s decisions… The ball is in their [Alliance’s] court,” MP Minashvili said.

After a failure to agree on the rule of electing Tbilisi mayor at the recent meeting of the inter-party working group on November 18, the ruling party negotiator MP Pavle Kublashvili said there was “no resource for continuing working in this format.”

Alliance for Georgia, which initially insisted on having a 50% threshold for electing Tbilisi mayor, for its part also compromised in the process of negotiations and offered 45% threshold, but the proposal was vetoed by the ruling party and National-Democratic Party.

On November 19 the Alliance for Georgia called on the ruling party to changed its position and to return to the negotiating table to reach an agreement through mutual compromises and indicated that it was ready to further compromise from its 45% proposal, but also said it would not agree on 30% or 35%.

MP Minashvili strongly disagrees with a formulation that it was the ruling party, which quit the negotiating process in frames of the inter-party group. “We have reciprocated for many times and now it’s up to them to do the same,” he said.

He also said that if the Alliance for Georgia refuses to join the 30% threshold proposal, discussions on this and other election system-related matters would continue within the Parliament as time was pressing. The amendments to the election code are expected to be sent to Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal issues, before they are endorsed by the Parliament.

The proposal of having the 30% threshold is similar to the one applied during the election of majoritarian MPs in the May, 2008 parliamentary elections and from which the ruling party candidates benefited, particularly in Tbilisi. The ruling party candidates were better positioned under this rule, because they were competing with several opposition candidates, wherein the overall opposition vote was split.

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