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Electoral reform – for the authorities and the opposition2008-12-16 16:44
The Georgian authorities are launching a reform of the electoral legislation. The opposition are convinced that this is necessary, above all, for holding extraordinary parliamentary and presidential elections.
In the next few days a special parliamentary group will be formed for refining the electoral legislation. The speaker of parliament David Bakradze announced this at a press conference. According to him, the experts making up this group will have to decide whether it is necessary to devise a new electoral code or to make changes to the existing legislation.
However, in spite of the speaker's pronouncement, it continues to remain unclear exactly which clauses or normative acts as a whole have become obsolete. But Bakradze limited himself to the following vague statement: "The most recent elections in Georgia represented a vital step forwards in the view of international organizations, but there is naturally still room for the electoral legislation to be improved even further."
And he also called for non-parliamentary opposition politicians and those parties which share an interest to become involved in this work, promising that the parliamentary group will be working alongside international non-governmental organizations.
Incidentally, back in May this year at a press conference convened by the observers who had concluded their work on the Georgian election campaign, the head of the PACE delegation Matthias Jorsch again called on the newly elected parliament to devise and pass a new electoral code before the end of the year which would allow the next elections to be carried out without any infringements. It is no coincidence that this has been recalled now. After all, European donors are threatening not to give Georgia the millions they promised if the reforms (including those involving electoral legislation) are not implemented.
Today's announcement by the speaker was preceded on 9th December by an order given by Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili to parliament to reform the electoral legislation. But it is still too early to judge whether opposition politicians will take part in the work of the special parliamentary group.
According to reports by the newspaper 24 saati (24 hours), the leader of the New Right party Mamuka Katsitadze believes that, "the international community is not only demanding that the Georgian government make changes to the electoral legislation; the question of holding extraordinary parliamentary and presidential elections is also high on the agenda."
Many other opposition politicians think the same. Which is to say that the first task is a condition and necessary step for immediately going on to carry out the second task. Moreover, the Conservatives have already prepared a list of planned amendments to the electoral code consisting of 39 points. The General Secretary of the party Kakha Kukava said today that this would create the opportunity for political changes to made to the Constitution which would enable extraordinary elections to be held.