Irakli Kobakhidze, Speaker of Georgian Parliament, recently outlined proposed constitutional changes. Among them is a switch to a fully proportional electoral system, for which civil society groups have long argued. But this possible switch could end up restricting political competition.
This pending reform would produce three major changes. First, it would do away with the current mixed system of determining parliament’s composition by eliminating first-past-the-post races, and relying solely on party-list voting to allocate seats. A second change would re-allocate votes for parties that fail to clear the 5-percent electoral threshold (the percentage needed for a party to gain representation in parliament), and give those votes to the leading party. The last change, which is ironic coming from a party that came to power as a coalition, would prohibit parties from forming electoral alliances. Taken together, some experts caution that the proposed rule changes could tilt the electoral playing field in favor of the incumbents, and thus would mark a setback for civil society.
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Dustin Gilbreath is a Policy Analyst at CRRC-Georgia. David Sichinava is a Senior Policy Analyst at CRRC-Georgia.