Why was the election code changed?
One of the conditions of the agreement reached through EU mediation in the search for a way out of the political crisis created after the 2020 parliamentary elections has been the implementation of “ambitious electoral reform”.
On June 28, 2021, the Parliament of Georgia adopted in the third reading amendments to the Election Code, aimed at improving the election legislation. The work on the reforms lasted for several months and the final version of the document also reflected the provisions of the agreement signed between the political parties on April 19, 2021.
What has changed?
Agitation-propaganda and pressure on voters
Election day It is not allowed to place agitation material at the polling station, 25 meters from the entrance of the polling station. This material will be subject to removal / dismantling / seizure.
Physical obstruction of voter movement within the polling station or within 100 meters of the polling station was prohibited on polling day. Also, aIt was forbidden to gather people or register voters within 100 meters of the polling station on polling day.
At the polling station, On polling day, party-appointed commission members no longer have the right to act as a voter registrar.
The NGO sector estimates that it puts commission members in an unequal position, and that this restriction may impede the proper enforcement of election procedures.
Municipalities The election threshold was reduced and the share of proportionally elected Sakrebulo members was increased. Consequently, the changes provide a more proportionate reflection in the mandates of the voters;
In order to be elected as a majoritarian of the City Council in the first round, it was necessary to gain the support of at least 40% of the voters.
It was forbidden to draw up a protocol for amending the summary protocol of the Precinct Election Commission in the days after the polling day; The District Election Commission was prohibited from amending the protocol without counting the ballots; Mandatory commissions will count 10% of polling stations.
The existence of this entry in the Electoral Code was due to the large number of amendment protocols drawn up in the District Election Commissions after the closure of the Precinct Election Commission and the sealing of documents during the 2020 parliamentary elections. The amendment protocols were issued mainly without counting the ballots, based on the explanations (including oral) of PEC members, which significantly reduced the confidence of the DEC in the process of summarizing the current results.
The rule of appeal
A special database of authorized persons should be established to submit complaints to higher election commissions and it will be possible to submit complaints electronically; also, Certain deadlines for appeals and grievance redress have been increased.
The new version of the Election Code has also increased certain deadlines for appeals and deliberations, namely:
- DECs will have four days to review complaints instead of two, due to the fact that often reviewing complaints also involves recounting ballots;
- The Court of Appeals will have two days instead of one to hear claims;
- The decision of the district election commissions will be possible to be appealed to the CEC within two calendar days instead of one day after its receipt;
- The CEC will have two days instead of one day to review the above complaint;
- Instead of one day, the CEC decision can be appealed in court in two calendar days.
Verification of results
According to the changes made, The District Election Commission is obliged to recount the results of five randomly selected polling stations from the polling stations in the territory of its constituency no later than the 6th day after the polling day.
Counting the results of a randomly selected precinct election commission is an additional mechanism to verify the accuracy of polling station data. And, if proper rules are followed, will help increase confidence in the results.
Proportion of proportional and majoritarian seats
ShThe ratio of proportional and majoritarian seats and the type of majoritarian component have changed. Among them, instead of the symmetrical distribution of seats in the Tbilisi Sakrebulo (25 proportional, 25 majoritarian), 80% of the members will be elected proportionally. The same share of the Sakrebulo should be elected in other self-governing cities, where previously the share of proportional seats was equal to 60%. The share of proportional seats in the Sakrebulo of self-governing communities has increased to 2/3 of the total membership. Prior to that, the rate averaged 49%.
The election threshold for Sakrebulo elections has been reduced. The minimum threshold for Tbilisi Sakrebulo elections was set at 2.5%, and in the case of all other municipalities – 3%. Prior to this change, election subjects in all municipal councils were required to collect at least 4% of the vote to win seats on party lists.
Lowering the threshold will allow more political parties to enter the local representative body. However, due to the small number of seats to be distributed in some constituencies, a political party with a minimum threshold of votes will win only one seat in the Sakrebulo.
Locally Instead of a relative majority of votes to win in single-member constituencies, candidates will be required to gain more than 40% support.
In the event that neither candidate receives the required number of votes to win, a second round vote must be held between the two candidates with the best results. If more than two candidates have the same best result or the next few candidates with one of the best results receive an equal number of votes, all of these candidates will run in the second round.. The winner in the second round will be the candidate who gets more votes. If the candidates received an equal number of votes, the candidate who received more votes in the first round will be considered elected. If these votes are equal, the winner will be the candidate who has registered earlier.
According to the new edition of the Election Code of Georgia, The composition of the Tbilisi City Council was again determined by 50 members, while the number of members of the representative bodies of other self-governing cities was increased from 25 to 35. In the case of self-governing communities, the number varies and ranges from 18 to 45 members of the City Council.
Rules for staffing the election administration
All levels of SaThe number of election commission members has increased from 12 to 17; Of which, 9 on the principle of parity, means 9 political parties.
This increased party representation and made the rules for compiling election commissions relatively fair.
What remained unchanged
The law still says nothing about unbalanced protocols, This is one of the main problems in the current practice, and the 2020 parliamentary elections were no exception – the non-governmental sector believed that this issue should have been regulated in order to increase public confidence in the elections.
Cancellation of 43% liability
According to the Charles Michel Agreement, early parliamentary elections should be called in 2022 if the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party receives less than 43% of the proportional vote in the municipal elections.
The Charles Michel Agreement, signed on April 19, was annulled by the Georgian Dream on July 28.
Home figures and facts
The total number of voters for the 2021 local elections is 3,492,172 in 84 constituencies.
On October 2, the population will elect local self-government (mayor) and representative (council) bodies in 64 municipalities, namely 59 self-governing communities and 5 self-governing cities. A total of 64 mayors and 2,068 members of city councils will be elected for a four-year term.
During the pre-election period, district (219 vacant positions) and precinct election commissions (29,312 vacancies) were staffed.
- The selection of PEC members by district election commissions revealed several notable trends, including the fact that some of the elected members, in their current or past service, are affiliated with the ruling party.
- During the monitoring of the first sessions of the precinct election commissions, the lack of information of the commission members about their nominating / nominating political party was noticeable. In some cases, individuals elected by the district election commission were surprised that they were not nominated by a political party. Also, some of the members appointed by the opposition parties did not know from which party they were appointed; They considered themselves to be the representatives of the ruling party and only at the training, while filling in the relevant list, did they find the name of the nominating party, which caused some of them resentment.