Georgian parliament ratifies constitutional amendments introducing proportional representation

Earlier this week (29th June), the Parliament of Georgia voted to adopt a series of constitutional amendments designed to strengthen Georgia's democracy. This follows an electoral reform agreement reached on the 8th of March, and was passed at the final reading with the support of 117 members out of 142. 

The Constitutional amendments will change parliament's composition for the 2020 election to 120 proportional and 30 majoritarian seats. Parties will be required to meet only a 1% threshold to enter parliament. In addition, no party earning less than 40% of votes may claim a majority. This altered system will apply to the 2020 parliamentary election and to any election falling between it and the 2024 parliamentary election. 

In 2024, full proportional representation will become the norm, as it is already a constitutional requirement. Full proportional representation was first proposed by the then newly elected Georgian Dream party in 2012. 

This outcome concludes the recent March 8th Agreement signed and agreed to by all of Georgia's political parties via a Memorandum of Understanding and a Joint Statement, both brokered and strongly supported by representatives of the United States, the European Union, Germany, and the Council of Europe. Foreign ambassadors urged all Georgian political parties to abide by the Agreement and move expeditiously to enact constitutional amendments that codify electoral reform. 

The opposition factions United National Movement and European Georgia refused to participate in the vote despite the emphatic urging to do so by Western ambassadors and governments.

Prime Minister Gakharia asserted, "Today, Georgia has taken another important step to ensure the European and Euro-Atlantic future of our country. The new electoral system that was adopted demonstrates the Georgian Dream's strong will to consistently implement the most important changes for the country, which no other political force has been able to achieve, and which serves to further consolidate European parliamentary democracy in Georgia." 

Gakharia continued, "This decision is a guarantee of the further development of Georgia's democracy and the irreversibility of its Euro-Atlantic course."

Georgia's leading health official recently announced that the October 2020 elections could go ahead, following Georgia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.