Although decision to have direct election of Tbilisi mayor was “wrong”, the authorities agreed on such move as part of a political compromise, ruling party lawmakers said on December 11.
“We have chosen a wrong way in Tbilisi,” said Mikheil Machavariani, vice speaker of the Parliament from the ruling party.
He said that with this decision to have direct election of Tbilisi mayor the National Movement ruling party’s “task became tougher.”
“While we have to win the mayoral race – we will certainly win it – simultaneously we also have to win the majority of seats in the Tbilisi City Council [Sakrebulo] so that to ensure that the elected Mayor faces no problems in the City Council in endorsing key decisions,” MP Machavariani said.
His remarks were made when lawmakers were debating on the calls from MPs from the parliamentary minority to allow direct election of mayors in four other major cities as well – Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi and Poti. The debates took place while lawmakers were considering package of legislative amendments related to local self-governance.
“Be satisfied with this political agreement [on direct election of mayor in Tbilisi],” MP Akaki Bobokhidze of the ruling party told the parliamentary minority lawmakers. “It was done not because we consider it to be correct, but for the sake of political agreement and consensus.”
The direct election of mayor will only apply to the capital city, despite a pledge by President Saakashvili, made in his speech at the UN General Assembly in September, that “all mayors.”
MP Levan Vepkhvadze, vice-speaker of the Parliament from Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), a leading party in the parliamentary minority, also called on the ruling party to change the current rule of composition of the city councils in Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi and Poti.
Currently, these four cities have 15-member city councils – ten elected through party-list, proportional system and five in majoritarian single-mandate constituencies.
MP Vepkhvadze’s proposal was to increase number of seats to 30, wherein 20 would be elected through proportional system and 10 in majoritarian constituencies.
MP Mikheil Machavariani of the ruling party said the ruling party was ready for “a reasonable compromise” on the matter.