The ruling party is ready to continue talks with the opposition on election system reform, but the opposition’s language of “ultimatums” does not contribute to the process and pushes it on the verge of collapse, a senior ruling party negotiator said.
MP Pavle Kublashvili, who chairs parliamentary committee for legal affairs, said that a joint statement released by the group of eight opposition parties on March 23 and its “tone” was “totally unacceptable”.
In the joint statement eight opposition parties, which have agreed to speak with one voice with the ruling party during the electoral reform talks, accused authorities of a failure to show political will to fundamentally reform the electoral environment. They stopped short of announcing withdrawal from the negotiations, but warned they would continue talks only if the authorities “make adequate steps”. They also said that without an agreement with the eight parties, the authorities would not be able to hold normal election and it would turn into a struggle of the people against “usurpers”.
“This is the language of threats and blackmailing,” MP Pavle Kublashvili told Civil.ge on March 24. “They are telling us: ‘ether you agree on everything or you will receive tensions’ - this is not a tone used at the negotiating table.”
He said he had not been in contact with the opposition on the matter since the statement was issued and could not say when the next round of talks would be held.
“After their hysteria and the tone used in the statement now it remains unclear for me what their plans are,” MP Kublashvili said and added that the ruling party was ready to continue discussions on “all the issues” raised during the talks.
“We do not cease talks, but we are ready to continue this process only if the authorities make adequate steps,” the eight opposition parties said in the statement. “Indicator of the authorities’ adequate approach will be a decision on biometric voter registry on the entire territory of the country and on the reform of the electoral system so that to maximally secure distribution of seats in the Parliament proportionally to votes received by the parties.”
These two issues are key parts of the joint proposal, which the group of eight parties tabled in October, 2010.
The ruling party said it would only be possible to make biometric voter registry ahead of 2012 parliamentary elections in the capital city, Tbilisi, and not for the entire country as demanded by the opposition.
The issue of election system – set of rules defining how the Parliament will be composed – seems to be even more serious sticking point.
The opposition insists that the current rule of electing 75 MPs in 150-seat Parliament through majoritarian system in single-mandate constituencies should be changed with proportional-regional system, wherein multi-mandate majoritarian constituencies will be introduced, wherein number of seats in each constituency will depend on its size.
The ruling party wants to maintain the current system, citing that each constituency should have the possibility to elect in the Parliament an individual MP. The ruling party has even offered to increase number of majoritarian MPs – a proposal strongly rejected by the opposition.