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MPs Endorse Election Code Amendments
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 Dec.'09 / 14:26

The Parliament has approved with its first hearing the amendments to the election code, which, among other issues, sets rules for electing self-governance bodies in the capital city.

The draft, which has yet to be approved with second and third readings this month, sets the rule of electing Tbilisi mayor, which is strongly opposed by number of non-parliamentary opposition groups, in particular by Alliance for Georgia, whose leader Irakli Alasania eyes running for Tbilisi mayoral office.

Mayor/City Council

A candidate, who wins more votes than others, but not less than 30% will be declared an outright winner. If not a single candidate receives the necessary amount of votes, the second round will be held with the participation of two candidates with the best results. A candidate winning most votes in the second round will be declared a winner. Alliance for Georgia was insisting on setting a 50%, or at least 45% threshold instead of 30%.

Only a political party or a bloc of parties will have the right to nominate a mayoral candidate.
 
The amendment also sets the rule of electing the Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo), which will have 50 members, instead of current 37 from which 25 are members elected in majoritarian constituencies and 12 elected through party-list, proportional system.

In the new City Council 25 seats will distributed among candidates elected through proportional, party-list system and the threshold, which the parties will have to clear for endorsing their candidates, will be 4%.

The rest 25 seats will be again distributed among candidates who will win contest in majoritarian constituencies. Majoritarian candidate winning more votes than others (without having any threshold) will be declared an outright winner.

Majoritarian constituencies will be created on the basis of 10 electoral districts of Tbilisi. According to the draft amendments, the Central Election Commission will provide division of 10 districts into 25 single-mandate sub-districts. However, as MP Pavle Kublashvili of the ruling party said on December 4, this provision may be revised during the second hearing of the draft. 

According to the draft amendment, a sitting member of the Parliament has the right to run for the City Council membership without giving up his MP credentials. The rule, however, may be revised in the process of second reading.

Central Election Commission

The draft amendment changes the rule of electing chairman of the 13-member Central Election Commission (CEC).

The President, according to the draft amendment, will nominate three candidates for the post of CEC chairman and it will be up to the opposition members of CEC to select one. If none of three candidates receive majority votes of opposition CEC members then it will be up to the Parliament to elect one among three candidates.

Rule of filling other twelve seats remains the same, according to which five members will be nominated by the President and approved by the Parliament – hence these seats will be taken by pro-ruling party candidates.

Remaining seven seats will be filled by representatives of those political parties, which garnered at least 4% of votes during the last parliamentary elections in 2008 or at least 3% during the previous local elections in 2006. The ruling party is one of them and the rest six seats will be distributed among the opposition parties. 

As soon as the new rules enter into force, the authority of sitting members of CEC will be suspended and in January the commission will be composed anew, according to the draft amendment.

The ruling party rejected the opposition’s proposal final vote tallies to be approved by 2/3 of commission members.

In the precinct election commissions the opposition members will have the right to appoint the commission secretaries.

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