Democracies attach too much importance to fair elections, which on its hand, is pretty much determined by the electoral system. If there are some gaps within the system this raises many questions with respect to the legitimacy of elected organs and officials. It is exactly what makes us think there shall be such an election environment created in Georgia that would respond to the high democratic principles and create the guarantees for political stability.

The existing Georgian electoral system is as following: when electing the parliament we use mixed electoral system, 77 members of the Georgian Parliament are being elected according to proportionate electoral vote, while 73 other– according to majoritarian. Voting within the proportionate system happens according to the closed electoral lists, which means – the voter votes for the party, that on its hand, based on the received votes, selects the candidates for the parliamentary seats from its party list. Meanwhile, the majoritarian elections are conducted within the single mandate election district. The election district division coincides with the municipality division and in reality, the elector registered on the territory of each municipality is represented by one deputy in the Parliament of Georgia.

There are comments and recommendations from international and local non-governmental organizations on the electoral system of Georgia. For example, the principle of vote equality is not protected, this means:

  • there is a significant disproportionality between the number of registered voters at the district and the number of received parliamentary mandates
  • there have never been election districts of approximately equal-size in Georgia that would ensure equality of votes within the mixed election system.
  • different number of voters of different election districts are electing one majoritarian in the Paliament of Georgia – and often this difference is more than 100%.

According to the recommendations of OSCE and the Venice Commission the difference between the number of electors of different districts should not exceed 10%, and in special cases 15% should be set as the maximum limit. This is shared by almost all organizations that work on election monitoring or election systems.

According to the existing election system in order to acquire majoritarian mandate the candidate should cross the 30% threshold. On this issues – recommendation of Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association is that the 30% threshold for a majoritarian candidate is very low for its legitimacy to be ensured and it’s necessary for the threshold to increase.

The tendency is that the government is always refraining from taking the recommendations on majoritarian systems into account, while with respect to the proportionate system the case is different. Specifically, it’s been years that the organizations have been calling the government of Georgia to decrease the inadequately high threshold for the proportionate votes – here, we can say, this was one of the exceptional cases when the recommendations were taken into accountant and the minimum threshold was defined as 5%. In addition, there has been one more improvement in the electoral system made according to the OSCE recommendation. Specifically, the law was not stating clearly how the calculation of minimal barrier was used to be done: according to the number of bulletins counted as valid or according to the number casted. Today’s law states that minimum barrier is calculated according to the number of bulletins counted valid.

In most of the cases the recommendations of international and local organizations on principal matters are not taken into consideration. This shows the government is not ready to reform the election system in the light of active involvement from the side of non-governmental organizations and political parties. Yet within the last period there is a good tendency and political will for the issues related to election system to become an object of broad discussions.