Newscafe

Rallies after failure on electoral reform measures in Tbilisi, Georgia

Parliament’s rejection of new electoral reform measure causes lot of commotion among the Georgian population. Since November 14th announcement, protests are held in front of the parliament at Rustaveli Avenue, capital Tbilisi.

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Protesters waving flags in front of Georgian parliament – Photo by Sharon De Graeve © 2019

Last few days, crowds of people are blocking traffic as they gather in front of the parliament to express their hatred about Bidzina Ivanishvili, head of ruling democratic party Georgian Dream, who couldn’t deliver on his promises concerning the electoral reform demanded by protesters last summer.

According to Alexander Kajarawa, employee in Free University of Tbilisi, ‘Georgian Dream’ is not a good name for the leader party now. “Government decided not to conduct fair elections so now the people are out and are protesting against this.”

This reform was about a constitutional amendment which was supposed to establish a fully proportional electoral system for the parliamentary election from 2020, on which Ivanishvili failed to reach the minimum of 113 needed votes as he got only 101, according to Khatuna Gogorishvili, member of parliament of opposition.

“Now we have the mixed electoral system; half of the parliament is elected through the majoritarian mandates and the other half through proportional party lists. The results of these two electoral systems are usually summed up, the party can take the more mandates in parliament than the actual support it has,” explained George Selimashvili, journalist at Civil Georgia. “We want to change this to make that each party has the number of mandates which is equal to real support.”

These changes were demanded by whole society; students, NGO’s, also opposition parties, on June 20th, after Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov chaired the 26th Interparliamentary Assembly about Orthodoxy held in Georgia. The rally proceeds very hostile as more than 100 people were in the hospitals after police used guns and other means of defense to prevent protesters from getting into the parliament building, according to Gogorishvili.

“There was huge amount of people from all around Georgia and the formal leader of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili, he was afraid, he is only afraid of the protest of people and nothing else, (…) so he promised to have whole proportional system,” says Gogorishvili.

For some people it is no coincidence that this proposal was not approved. “He did not want to keep his promise and introduce proportional electoral system, because it makes it harder for him to win other elections. He fully controls the party and those who did not vote for the change were actually following his orders,” says Guram Kvaratskhelia, 22-year-old student International Relations. “There is no control on his power inside the political system and the only way to exercise any form of control on him is demonstrations by people.”

 

Head of Public Relations Elsa Guliashvili confirmed Ministry of Internal Affairs took additional safety measures to ensure the protection of public safety, as well as freedom of self-expression as legislation prescribes. Additional police forces were mobilized to protect the rights of expression and safety of citizens and to guarantee uninterrupted operation of state institutions.

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Demonstration blocking Rustaveli Avenue– Photo by Sharon De Graeve © 2019