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Opposition's New Proposals on Electoral System
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 Apr.'11 / 19:11

A group of eight opposition parties presented on April 5 new proposals on the election system reform calling for either cutting number of majoritarian MPs or introducing a principle of non-awarding of overhang seats in order to secure fair distribution of seats in the Parliament.

The new proposal came after the talks on electoral system reform were suspended because of disagreements on number of key issues, including on rule of electing majoritarian MPs.

The group of eight opposition parties, which have an agreement to speak in one voice with the ruling party on electoral issues, has been arguing that the current system does not provide fair distribution of seats in the legislative body and it should be changed, particularly through scrapping the current rule of electing majoritarian MPs in 75 single-mandate constituencies. But the ruling party is strongly against, citing that each constituency should elect an individual representative in the Parliament to make a local MP more personally accountable before a constituency.

Under the current system, wherein an MP is elected through winner-takes-all system, the ruling party endorsed its candidates in 71 out of 75 single-mandate constituencies in 2008 parliamentary elections. The ruling party in addition endorsed 48 lawmakers through proportional, party-list system after receiving 59.18% of votes and in overall secured 119 seats, which makes 79.3% of seats in the 150-member legislative body.

The eight opposition parties say it’s unfair when a party gets more seats in the Parliament than votes in the proportional, party-list system.

Their new proposal envisages keeping of current system of electing 75 majoritarian MPs in single-mandate constituency, but not to award a party with overhang seats, meaning that if a party, at the expense of success in majoritarian constituencies, wins more seats in the Parliament than it receives votes in proportional contest, a party should be deprived of those extra seats gained through party-list contest. The number of seats should be cut to the level, which would be proportional to the votes, received in the party-list contest.

For example, under the proposed system the ruling party would have secured total of 59.18% of seats in the Parliament, which is about 89 seats, instead of 119; the ruling party would have gained its 71 majoritarian seats, plus 18 seats under the party-list contest, instead of 48 seats.

The proposed system also requires a majoritarian MP candidate to be nominated by a political party, excluding independent candidates from running for the majoritarian MP seat, as it is under the existing rules. But recently the ruling party offered to change this rule and allow independent candidates to run in the majoritarian MP contest.

The group of eight opposition parties has also put forth an alternative option, envisaging keeping the current system, but on the condition that number of majoritarian MPs will be decreased from the current 75 to 50. The ruling party in its proposals has instead offered to increase number of the majoritarian MPs.

The group of eight parties has also proposed that in order for a majoritarian MP candidate to be declared an outright winner in the first round of vote, a candidate should clear 50% threshold instead of 30% as it is under the present system. The proposal increases chances for a runoff in which an opposition candidate may have more chances to win majoritarian MP contest than under the existing system.

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