TBILISI, DFWatch — The new government has started an overhaul of the election legislation. A group in parliament will prepare a draft of amendments, but some experts argue that the non-governmental sector and parties outside parliament should also be involved in the process.
The parliamentary majority announced the setting up of an inter-faction group in parliament, which will work on election issues, but further details are not yet known.
Election reform is a hot topic before every election in Georgia, as a large part of the political spectrum and society thinks the government is tailoring the legislation to only fit its own interests.
Before Bidzina Ivanishvili came into politics, election reform was announced as a number one priority of the country, and the whole political spectrum as well as the non-governmental sector was involved. The process lasted ten months, but the process failed and the government did not take into consideration any of the opposition’s demands. What the government did manage was to agree with a few opposition parties having less influence, and to make amendments as was agreed with them.
When the Georgian Dream coalition won the election in October, 2012, Bidzina Ivanishvili made a promise that his party would carry out reform of election legislation in order to create equal conditions for everyone.
Zakaria Kutsnashvili from Georgian Dream says this process is starting now, and an inter-faction group will soon be set up in parliament, which will decide what legislation should be amended.
But Khatuna Lagazidze and Kakhi Kakhishvili, experts working on election related issues, say that this work format is unsuited for safeguarding the interests of all political players. Instead, they suggest that the group working on amendments should not be subordinate to parliament, but to the prime minister.
Their argument is that with a parliamentary working group, the proposed amendments will be in accordance with the interests of those political parties which have seats in parliament.
Khatuna Lagazidze told DF Watch that Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili today is the only politician for whom it is advantageous to create equal conditions among political players, and therefore the working group should be set up under his supervision.
“He is a guarantee for the start of forming an election environment in Georgia which will provide equal conditions for every political party,” she said.
The experts think that a if such a working group supervised by the prime minister is created it should be staffed by members of parliament, party representatives outside parliament, experts and representatives of non-governmental organizations.