Petition regarding the local elections system
It is known that, in January 2014, the Inter-Faction group within the Georgian Parliament began to work on the electoral reform based on which elections will be held in 2014.
We believe that a relevant revision of the current electoral system should be set as the key priority for the upcoming local elections. The existing electoral system has long been a subject of criticism from NGOs as well as political parties. In addition to local organizations, the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) recommend to scrutinize electoral systems in the light of the coming parliamentary and local elections in order to uphold the principle of equality of vote weight (European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) Joint Opinion on the Draft Election Code of Georgia, 2011, Page 8.para 22). As of now, however, the political decision to adjust the system has not been reached, which is an impediment to introduce any significant changes aimed at improving the electoral system in the remaining short period of time.
The present system:
- is unable to ensure that the will of the voters is proportionally represented in the mandates;
- the number of missing votes is big;
- one person- one vote principle is not met;
- the ruling party is given unjustified advantage.
Subsequently, we recommend the government:
- As regards elections for the Mayor and Governor, to install a rule under which the candidate receiving 50 % + 1 vote is considered the winner in the elections. At the same time, it is of principle importance that every mayor and governor is elected in the same manner.
- To abolish the current system of single-mandate districts. We consider it more appropriate that this system be replaced by multi-mandate majority constituencies in the 2014 local elections.
In view of this, the government should ensure a prompt political decision-making and setting up of an electoral system that will promote fair elections and better reflect the will expressed by the electorate through elections. At the same time, the decision pertaining to the electoral system choice should stem from a broad public consensus.
Applying the above modifications is, at the very least, crucially important to ensure fair and competitive elections given the implementation of the noted changes within the time remaining before the local elections is feasible.
The petition is open to all NGOs and political unions for signature. At the same time, joining the petition does not mean that its supporters have no other recommendations to further improve the electoral environment.
The Georgian Young Lawyers' Association
Transparency International Georgia
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
Open Society – Georgia Foundation